HR & Management

Succession planning: Half of UK SMEs would fail if the founder suddenly left

3 min read

27 October 2015

A third of Brits working for SMEs felt the company would not survive the month if the founder left on short notice, according to recent research by Network ROI.

While 33.9 per cent of Brits felt businesses would not survive without the business founder, the number rose to over 50 per cent in the West Midlands. In Scotland the picture is equally as bleak, with over 50 per cent believing they could not last a year without their founder and a quarter believing they would go under in less than a month.

Businesses in Northern Ireland were more confident in their business continuity strategies, with two thirds maintaining the company could survive without their founder.

Sean Elliot, managing director of Network ROI, said: “We carried out a business continuity and succession planning survey to get a better understanding of attitudes towards these issues within the UK small business community. The results showed that business continuity is an area that requires a greater deal of investment and understanding, especially within the SME space.”

This was highlighted by an Aviva survey back in 2011, which found that 50 per cent of SMEs did not have a business continuity or disaster recovery plan in place. Some 16 per cent felt there was no business requirement to have a plan.

In 2015, Continuity Central also conducted a survey asking business continuity professionals why disaster recovery or continuity was not perceived as a priority for companies. Some 35.6 per cent of Brits claimed a lack of budget, funds and resources were to blame, while 16 per cent suggested it was a lack of top management commitment.

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Other cited challenges included a lack of business support, low priority given when compared to other deliverables, staffing difficulties and lack of time.

Elliot said: “Succession planning represents an important part of the business continuity process, and it deserves some careful consideration as many smaller businesses fail in the immediate aftermath of losing a leader. 

“Doing simple things like having a discussion with your family and professional advisors in the first instance are important. Blocking out a few hours in your work diary each week will give you enough time to put a simple plan together.”