Written by: Logan Speights

A business owner discusses succession plans with an exit planning expert, as they get the business ready to sell.

Preparing a business for sale is an endeavor that necessitates meticulous succession planning. This critical process paves the way for a smooth transition to the next owners and, importantly, amplifies the value of your business, making it an attractive proposition for potential buyers. This guide presents a detailed succession planning checklist, crafted to effectively get your business ready to sell, and navigates you through every step of this vital journey.

Understanding Succession Planning

Succession planning is a strategic process that involves identifying and developing potential successors within your business. By preparing for the future, you can ensure business continuity, maintain customer trust, and preserve the legacy of your company when the right time comes and you are  ready to sell. Without a succession plan, your business could face uncertainty and instability, which can be a red flag for potential buyers.

Identifying Potential Successors

One of the first steps in succession planning is identifying potential successors. These could come from anywhere – current employees, family members, or external candidates. The ideal successor should have the necessary skills, experience, and drive to take over your role successfully.

  • Review your organizational chart and identify potential candidates
  • Consider the skills and qualifications required for the role
  • Reflect on the individual’s performance, potential, and ambition

Training and Development

Once you’ve identified potential successors, the next step is to provide them with the training and development opportunities they need to succeed in their future roles as you get your business ready to sell. This process can take several years and requires ongoing effort and commitment.

  • Develop a comprehensive training plan for each successor
  • Provide opportunities for hands-on experience and learning
  • Identify strategic initiatives they can own from the beginning and manage over time
  • Regularly review and update the training plan based on the successor’s progress and feedback

Assessing Readiness of Successors

Assessing the readiness of your successors is a critical step in the succession planning process. This involves evaluating their performance, soliciting feedback from other team members, and considering their leadership potential. An important part of this process is simply “time.” Your ability to assess their performance longitudinally will show you if they lose interest or become lazy at various stages. 

  • Conduct regular performance reviews and provide constructive feedback
  • Solicit feedback from other team members and stakeholders
  • Consider the successor’s leadership style, decision-making abilities, and relationships with team members

Creating the Succession Plan

The succession plan is a roadmap that outlines how the transition of leadership will occur, which is paramount when you are getting your business ready to sell. This document should be clear, detailed, and flexible to adapt to changing circumstances.

  • Document the roles and responsibilities of the successor
  • Outline the timeline for the transition
  • Establish contingency plans for unexpected events or changes

Communicating the Succession Plan

Transparent communication is key to the success of your succession plan. All relevant stakeholders should be informed about the plan and what it means for the future of the business.

  • Communicate the succession plan to all relevant stakeholders
  • Address any questions or concerns promptly and honestly
  • Regularly update stakeholders on the progress of the plan

The Role of Leadership in Succession Planning

Effective leadership is crucial in the succession planning process. Leaders play a key role in fostering a supportive culture, identifying potential successors, and mentoring the next generation of leaders, especially if the business is getting ready to sell.

  • Encourage a culture of learning and development
  • Mentor potential successors and provide them with opportunities to grow
  • Show commitment to the succession plan by actively participating in the process

Legal and Financial Considerations

Lastly, there are various legal and financial considerations to keep in mind during the succession planning process as you get your business ready to sell. These may include tax implications, legal requirements, and financial planning for your retirement.

  • Consult with legal and financial advisors to understand the implications of the sale
  • Review your financial plans and ensure they align with your post-sale goals
  • Consider the tax implications of the sale and plan accordingly

With a company like Proxxy, you can get help understanding your business’s growth stage, prioritizing tasks related to selling your business, and gaining insights into what initiatives should already be completed and what’s coming next. Our team of Certified Exit Planning Advisors can guide you through the complexities of your succession planning so your foundation will be strong when you prepare your business for sale.


Succession planning is a critical aspect of getting your business ready to sell. It involves a series of thoughtful and strategic steps, from identifying potential successors and providing them with training and development opportunities, to communicating the plan and addressing legal and financial considerations.

Remember, getting your business ready to sell doesn’t mean you have to part with it. Rather, it means you’re prepared for any potential event, such as mergers, acquisitions, investments, or scale financing. With the right succession planning, you’ll be in the driver’s seat, ready to seize any opportunity that comes your way.

The process of selling your business can be complex and may require the help of various specialists. By working with a dedicated team and executing a well-thought-out plan, you can navigate this process with ease, maximize the value of your business, and ensure a smooth transition for its future leaders.

Don’t forget, successful succession planning isn’t solely about handing over the reins smoothly. It’s also about forging a lasting legacy that continues to flourish, even when you’re no longer at the helm. So, take a deep breath, give it the time it deserves, and construct a succession plan that paves the way for your business’s sustained success. In doing this, you’ll be priming your business to be ‘ready to sell’, while simultaneously laying the foundation for its prosperous future.

Summary Checklist

Checklist ItemDone
Succession Planning Initiation[ ]
Define your exit objectives[ ]
Identify potential successors[ ]
Developing the Successors[ ]
Create a development plan for potential successors[ ]
Implement coaching and mentoring programs[ ]
Operational Efficiency[ ]
Streamline business operations[ ]
Identify and document key business processes[ ]
Financial Optimization[ ]
Analyze financial health[ ]
Implement financial improvements[ ]
Legal and Financial Planning[ ]
Consult with legal and financial advisors[ ]
Establish a business valuation[ ]
Communicating the Plan[ ]
Share the succession plan with key stakeholders[ ]
Address potential concerns[ ]
Execution and Review[ ]
Begin executing the succession plan[ ]
Review and adjust the plan as necessary[ ]

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