Ideally, the transfer process should be a long-term undertaking. Having a good idea of the time that you have to complete the process will allow you to make the necessary preparations for each of the steps. The type of transfer that is favored will have an impact on the amount of time that you will need. Normally, transferring the business to family members or to your employees will take more time than selling it to a third party. Thus, at the very beginning of the transfer process, it is essential for you to answer the following question:

How much time do you have to complete the succession process?

  • You have very little time:
    • There is an emergency. An unexpected event (an illness, a sudden death, an accident, etc.) forces you to find a successor or take over the business rapidly. Thus you have very little time to devote to the transfer process.
    • Or perhaps you always believed that you would take over the family business or the one managed by your boss, but things have turned out otherwise because the owner has decided to transfer the business to someone else or chosen not to relinquish control of the business.
  • You have a few years:
    • The clock is ticking. Sometime during the next few years, you intend to sell or transfer your business or you intend to undertake a succession or acquisition project that will allow you to take over someone else’s business. But you are very busy, and up until now, you have had little time to devote to planning.
    • You always believed that your children would take over your business, but it turns out that this is not going to happen. You have to change your plans rapidly and rethink your priorities.
  • You have at least ten years:
    • This is great news! You have an ideal time frame for a well-planned transfer process that respects your priorities as well as those of your business and your family. You will be able to develop the talent necessary for your business’s future success by offering adequate training to potential successors (or buyers).

To estimate the amount of time that you will need for your transfer project, you can use the Progress towards transfer tool. You can also use the Planning worksheets to properly plan the next steps.