The best time to begin succession planning is before you need it. While it may not be the most urgent business task you complete in a day, it is an important task that should not always fall to the bottom of your to-do list.

Without a succession plan, there may not be someone with the skills and expertise to take over after you retire or pass away. To prevent this, you will want to start succession planning early enough to train and mentor your successor, so he or she is able to gain those skills and understand how and why you make the decisions you do.

Some options for what you might address in your business succession plan include choosing your successor, developing a training program for your successor and determining the circumstances for how and when your successor will take over.

Succession planning can also map out how the company will manage various situations such as death, retirement or divorce, that could affect other leaders. These life events could happen at any time, but if there is a succession plan already in place, the company can react quickly and remain stable.

Although succession planning may seem daunting, you do not have to complete it all at once. Instead, you can break your succession planning tasks into phases that you complete over time.

A recent Forbes article offers these tips on succession planning:

  • Start the planning process by envisioning your legacy and vision for the future.
  • Consider how you will prepare for any events that could interrupt business.
  • Intentionally support your successor to grow into your position.
  • Create career paths throughout your business.

You will not be working at your business forever. To help prevent any problems during the leadership transition, it is beneficial to develop an exit strategy that details how your business should navigate that transition to continue running smoothly without you.