According to the European Commission, in the European Union (EU) around 150.000 failed business successions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) per year put approximately 600.000 jobs at risk. This corresponds to a failure rate of about 1 out of 3, with a high number of unreported cases. This leads to an enormous loss not only of jobs, but also in terms of innovation and growth potential, and is affecting structurally weak regions in particular. The reasons for this lie in the complexity of succession processes that affect numerous stakeholders, must consider different perspectives, and require extensive knowledge in different fields.

To increase the likelihood of succession processes succeeding, both the key stakeholders of the SMEs and the potential successors must first be enabled to analyse their respective Succession Readiness and to identify  knowledge gaps and weaknesses, and then need to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to best prepare and implement the succession process.

Even though the topic has been on the agenda for some time and is addressed in different project approaches, this has not had any significant influence on the high failure rate in the past. Research on existing support approaches and training for the target groups has shown that they are often generic in nature and should be complemented by new innovative offers that consider situational conditions in particular.

Tot tackle this, the SUCCESSION READY consortium, together with selected members of the target groups and several associated partners (e.g. Chambers, Consultants, Business Development Centres, Entrepreneurship education – hereafter collectively referred to as the VET sector), has developed a holistic and situational approach that takes into account the different needs of the target groups and that is able to sustainably increase the probability of successful succession, thus impacting on the extremely high failure rate of succession in SMEs. The Succession Ready Project will not with other projects or services. On the contrary, we have developed an innovative, complementary concept that enables the VET Sector to integrate our innovative analysis app and our comprehensive training courses into their existing services.

Hence, following the ADKAR model, the SUCCESSION READY project will:

A) Raise AWARENESS: it is important and necessary to further increase the importance of the topic of succession in SMEs and in particular the need for comprehensive and professional preparation and implementation of succession processes among all direct and indirect target groups (VET, SMEs, successors, policy, wider stakeholders).

D) Create DESIRE: it will translate the awareness about the importance of the topic to a real desire to implement the project resources and results into training and service provisions of the VET Sector / to the willingness of SMEs and potential successors to actually start preparation for the process. This will be achieved especially based on the promotion of best practice approaches and case studies that explain both the importance and the meaningfulness of the

K) Provide KNOWLEDGE: it will provide the VET sector with comprehensive training resources and the knowledge needed to integrate the topic of succession into their offerings and best prepare SMEs and successors for the process. For the end users, the project will prepare the knowledge as OERs and modular, self-directed learning courses to enable them to acquire the necessary competencies themselves.

A) Create ABILITY: To support the adaptation and integration of the resources, the consortium provides a comprehensive VET TRANSFER PACKAGE. Our interactive assessment APP also enables a precise analysis of the succession readiness of SMEs and successors and enables them to identify and close knowledge gaps in a targeted The APP also enables the VET sector to individualise and contextualise their advisory services.

R) REINFORCE learning: reinforcing and perpetuating learning through Peer-to-Peer exchange and continuous updates of the project resources on Succession Ready Knowledge Hub.




Article extracted from the Succession Ready project proposal.

Editor: Mario Ceccarelli, Project Officer at UIIN