The U.S. Small Business administration offers some useful information and online tools. But given the complex nature of succession planning, many owners rely on advisors, lawyers and/or accountants to steer them through the process and help them to make objective decisions.
Advisors may collaborate with other types of professionals, including lawyers, accountants and those who specialize in valuing businesses. Valuations prepared by objective third parties tend to be viewed more favorably by potential buyers, including internal successors, than those calculated by business owners themselves.
"There are estate-planning issues, tax-related concerns and money-management considerations involved in succession planning," said Martin Durbin, managing partner at accounting firm Crawford, Carter, Thompson & Durbin and financial advisor at Aperture Retirement Designs. "Nobody is an expert at all of those things."
"There is no set checklist or flowchart involved in succession planning," he added. "A lot depends on the person involved, what kind of shape their records are in and what they have in mind.
"For an advisor involved in succession planning, it takes a lot of deep thought and coordination with other experts," said Durbin.