How do I write a succession plan?

Nobody likes to think about it, but it's inevitable that one day you'll leave your business. Whether you decide to sell up, retire or have to get out of business due to health reasons, it's important that you plan for that day.

A succession, or exit plan outlines the things you will do when you sell, close or transfer ownership of your business.

Succession plan template and guide

Download our free Succession plan template and guide to get started on your plan now.

What to include in a Succession plan?

If you are creating your own succession plan, below is some suggested information to include based on our template.

Title page

The title page of your succession plan should include some brief information on your business, including your:

  • Business logo - Adding a logo helps give your business a more professional image.
  • Business owner's name - Enter multiple names if there are multiple owners.
  • Business owner's title - The titles of the business owner(s) listed above (e.g. Owner/Manager).
  • Business name - Enter your business name as registered in your state/territory. Find out more about Business and company registrations.
  • Main business address - Enter your main business address. This can be your home address if you are a home-based business or your head office if you have more than one location.
  • Australian Business Number (ABN) - If you're a business and have registered for an ABN enter it here. Find out how to register for an Australian Business Number.
  • Australian Company Number (ACN) - If you're a company, enter your ACN here. Visit our Register your company page.
  • Date prepared - The date you finished preparing your succession plan.
  • Table of Contents - Follows on from the Title page, and lists the items and page numbers of your Succession plan. Remember to update the table of contents as you change your plan along the way to reflect the changes

The succession section

The succession section is the main section of the plan and requires the most consideration. It covers areas such as considering skills gaps, training, the succession time and hand over. See the Succession section page for a detailed summary of what to include in your plan.

The finances section

The finances section of your succession plan covers detailed financial information relevant to the planned succession of your business, including:

  • Current value of the business- Enter the current market value of the business. Visit our Selling your business page.
  • Retirement income or payment - Detail any retirement payments required from the planned succession date. Detail the terms of any pay-out agreement including whether it's a one-off payment or regular payments.
  • Sale details - In the event that you put your business on the market during the succession, enter the minimum sale price you require, the length of time you plan to have the business on the market, and list the persons who will receive the proceeds. Visit our Selling your business page.
  • Buyout details - If you're in a partnership and you plan to arrange a buyout, enter the value of your share and your share in percentage terms. Also detail the value/percentage you will sell to existing partners, family members or external third parties.
  • Taxation - Detail the taxes payable in the event of a transfer or sale. Visit our Transferring business ownership page.

See our Business finances topic for detailed information on managing your finances.

Supporting documentation

Under the supporting documentation section, list all of your attachments included in your succession plan. These may include copies of:

  • Business name registration certificate
  • Australian Business Number (ABN) registration
  • Australian Company Number (ACN) registration
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) registration
  • Insurance papers
  • Lease papers
  • Market evaluation of the business
  • Partnership agreement
  • Buy-sell agreement
  • Retirement payout agreement
  • Contracts relevant to the succession
  • Will and testaments
  • Resumes of potential successors.

More information on succession planning

  • Read the Succession planning page to help you start planning for the day you leave your business.
  • Check our Events to see if there are any seminars about succession planning.
  • Read Sell your business to find the process of selling your business.
  • Find out what you need to do when you're Closing your business.
  • Get professional advice from a business adviser, accountant or solicitor.

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