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Many Business Owners Lack a Succession Plan

on June 25, 2024

(NewsUSA) - America’s business owners are facing increasingly complex challenges, not only tracking the nuts and bolts of the daily tasks that come with owning a business, but keeping up with things like technology and managing healthcare costs for employees. However, many business owners have not made plans for the future of their business, based on a survey from financial services firm Edward Jones in partnership with Morning Consult and NEXT360 Partners.

Approximately half of American business owners are currently over the age of 55, and many of them may be considering retirement, but more than a third say they have no succession plan in place, according to the survey, which was conducted in April 2024 and included 400 business owners who responded to online questions and unstructured interviews.

Among business owners with no succession plan, 38% reported their business is not at a point at which succession planning is a priority. Both uncertainty about the future of the business and how to start making a succession plan were the top reasons for not having one (32% for both), according to the survey. 

“For many business owners, short-term priorities associated with running a business might feel more urgent than planning for future succession,” said Katherine Roy, Principal, Retirement Products at Edward Jones, in a press release announcing the survey findings. “However, business owners should consider what will happen once they leave the business, whether by selling, retiring or becoming unable to manage the business due to health or age. A well-conceived succession plan allows the owner to identify what their ideal exit looks like and address tax, business, estate and liquidity considerations that reflect both business goals and family dynamics.”

Business owners said that barriers to making a succession plan are emotional as well as logistical; 26% said they were unable to identify a successor, but 88% believed that their businesses will grow over the next decade.

The survey results showed that four main factors drive the need for a business transition. The first is the legacy of the business and the future of employees and stakeholders. The second consideration is the market, in which the sale or exit of an owner is needed to maintain business operations and part of the proceeds will fund the owner’s retirement. The third factor is a health event or other change in priorities or circumstances for owner and the owner’s family. Lastly, the sale of the business also must align with the owner’s vision and the organization’s commitment to the integrity of the business.

Financial advisors can help business owners build a successful plan to help ensure a smooth transition of the business, but only 37% of those surveyed reported using a financial advisor to help with transition issues and decision-making.

“Even if a business owner already knows the succession plan that they want put in place, a financial advisor can guide them through all of the complexities and challenges owners face when determining and implementing the future of their business,” said Zachary Gildehaus, Business Owner Strategist, Client Needs Research at Edward Jones.

For more information about the survey visit:


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