Steps for Crafting a Business Succession Plan

No company can survive without a capable owner, executive, or shareholder at the head of the business. In the event of a key member’s sudden death, illness, or retirement, businesses are often left scrambling to recover lost assets and find a replacement. Large corporations and small businesses alike can avoid a rough transition by creating a succession plan with a knowledgeable attorney. Jones, Gregg, Creehan and Gerace can help you devise a business succession plan strategy to make sure your interests are protected and to help you accomplish exactly what you would like to do.

Developing a business succession plan in Pennsylvania involves several key steps to ensure a smooth transition of your business to new leadership or ownership. Below are general guidelines for creating a comprehensive succession plan:

  • Business Assessment: You will first want to make an assessment of your business situation by evaluating the current status of your business, including its financial health, market position, and operational structure. It is important to identify key roles and personnel essential to the business’s operations. The next step is to determine the primary goals for the succession. This could include continuity of leadership, preservation of company culture, or financial objectives. Then consider the timeline for the succession process.
  • Identify Potential Successors and Train Them: You will want to assess which current employees or family members are capable and interested in taking over key roles. Consider their skills, experience, and readiness to take over the business. If no internal candidates are suitable, consider options outside the company. Create a plan for training and gradually transitioning responsibilities to the successor. Continuously assess the readiness of the successor.
  • Legal and Financial Considerations and Contingency Plans: It is important to consult with attorneys and financial advisors, especially those familiar with Pennsylvania business law, to handle legal and financial aspects. You will want to ensure that all financial aspects are properly handled. This is especially important for tax implications and estate planning. Update or create legal documents that are instrumental to the succession. It is also advisable at this time to address potential risks and unexpected events, such as the sudden unavailability of a key individual. You should also include strategies for handling disputes or disagreements that may arise during the transition.
  • Communication Strategy: Develop a communication plan for stakeholders, including employees, customers, and suppliers. It is advisable to be transparent about changes and how they will be managed.
  • Review and Update the Plan Regularly: Periodically review the plan to ensure it remains relevant and effective, and be open to making adjustments as the business and its environment evolve. Implement the plan according to the established timeline. Monitor the transition process and provide support where necessary.
  • Documentation:  Document your succession plan in detail. This should include the timeline, terms of the succession, and roles and responsibilities of all involved parties. Make sure to keep records updated to reflect changes in your business or personal circumstances.  Lastly, make sure the plan is easily accessible to the individuals who will need to reference it in the future.

Every business is unique, and the specifics of your succession plan will depend on your business’s individual circumstances and objectives. As a result, it is often advisable to seek advice from an experienced business law attorney who is familiar with Pittsburgh’s business environment and can provide relevant advice about the regional business landscape. Contact Jones, Gregg, Creehan and Gerace for an initial consultation.  We can tailor the plan to your specific needs and will make sure that your interests are fully protected.