Photo of a bus

Would your business pass the bus test?


How often do we hear someone start the sentence, “just in case I get hit by a bus …” when sharing something vital they think you need to know? But what does this mean to your business if something unforeseen should happen?

No-one lives forever, so we all know its good business sense to have a robust succession plan, but what if the worst happens and you are not around to see this plan through?

Typically we would encourage business leaders to ensure they have a workforce plan in place that covers succession for key roles, but the important question is who can take over in an emergency and protect the future of the business.

You’ve worked hard to build up a business to hand down to your family or to a make profit when it’s sold so that you live your retired life comfortably – and even if we are not here to enjoy it we still want our family to.

Sustainability is fundamental to value; planning for succession in key roles is an essential part of making your business sustainable and ensuring it doesn’t die as a result of a single, unanticipated event. Succession is about medium to long-term planning, and we encourage leaders to identify the two people who can fill each key role in the future, but how would they cope if they were thrown into this scenario earlier than the plan anticipated?

A quick change would need to happen in order for them to ensure the continued success of the business. Our simple change success model identifies the three questions you need to ask of your team to make sure they can manage:

Change Success diagram

  1. Readiness – How ready are people are to implement change?
  2. Capability – Do they have the skills, knowledge, understanding and resources needed to do it?
  3. Beliefs – Do they have correct attitude to the change when they are suddenly needed to lead the business?


The question of who does what in an emergency situation is always an interesting one.

The MD has knowledge of all aspects of the business and often feels best placed to cover any absence. We often find that someone will step in but how will that person cope if they suddenly realise that there is so much that only the previous person knew?

Take the opportunity to plan for being hit by a bus and ensure there is sufficient knowledge and understanding of the business if you do. Chances are you won’t, so cheer up, remember what the Monty Python boys said “Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition”!


Will Abbott is Head of Business Advisory and is always happy to talk through any business concerns you may have at a free advice clinic which take place every Monday. Simply call 01242 766000 to book yourself in or email