4 Characteristics of a Good Succession Candidate

Thinking about succession plans is something many business owners just never get around to doing — until it’s too late. Some entrepreneurs are too uncomfortable facing the prospect of their own mortality, while others probably genuinely think that they will always be leading the company while they’re alive because they simply can’t imagine doing anything else. 

The truth is that no matter how long you’ve been leading your company, it is never too early (or late) to begin thinking about how you want to hand off your business. There are countless financial and legal considerations you must address before setting the plan in stone, which should be done after discussions with licensed professionals. One thing that you are best-equipped to do is to vet potential successors. Here are four characteristics we think a quality successor would have: 

  • Flexibility and capability. These two qualities are not exactly synonyms, but they do go hand-in-hand. Someone who is adaptable and coachable is probably capable of doing the job; these are crucial soft skills that successful employees have. While your candidate may not know the entire job description by heart, that shouldn’t be a factor in determining his or her capability for the job. 
  • Natural leadership skills. Not everyone is a natural leader. In fact, your most competent and knowledgeable employee may be a natural follower. While you are vetting your candidates, pay attention to how they address their peers and, in turn, how their peers address them. Someone who is willing to go the extra mile and convince others to do the same is one of the most valuable workers you could ever have.
  • Track record of success. Look at their time with your company. Have they received promotions or raises? Have they not only met the requirements of their current job, but regularly exceeded them? Someone who has continually succeeded at each position is worth a hard look.
  • They share a positive vision for the company. Have a frank discussion with your candidates about where they see themselves in the future. Ask them what position they see the company being in five, 10, or 20 years down the road. It is, of course, impractical to think that their vision and goals should mirror yours, but look for the ways in which your candidates’ visions do align with yours.


We love nothing more than seeing business owners grow a sustainable business that provides for them and their family for generations. We believe at some point, you should be able to kick back and watch as others continue your business legacy. Much like the proverb about the best time to plant a tree, the best time to do this planning was at the beginning of your business.  The next best time is now.  

We would love to help you examine your potential succession candidates and put a plan in place to help them have the skills, experience and funding necessary to successfully acquire or continue your business.  Call us at 704.755.5145 or drop us a line soon so we can discuss: https://soterian.com/contact-us/

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At Soterian, our goal is to help business owners like you think bigger. Bigger than today, bigger than your business, bigger than yourself.

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