Part of building a successful business is building a reputation and a legacy. You have taken the time to establish your business’s name in the field, and you want that name to endure long after your time owning the company.

Whether you plan to pass your business on to someone new to the company, a close friend or someone in between, you should not put off the process for thinking about your successor. You may find that the ideal person needs time to make a career transition or learn more about your role as an owner.

Here’s what you should keep in mind as you begin to think about who will take over your business.

Experience only comes one way

Over the course of years, you have learned a lot about what does and does not work in your industry. Not only do you know how your operation should run, but you have also learned a great deal about what your competitors are doing.

The earlier you begin planning, the more experience you can help your successor have, even if they have been working in your company. Create a schedule of people to mentor your successor candidate so that they can learn about the processes they will be managing.

Sometimes an outside hire is the best fit

It can be easy to feel trapped into choosing a certain person to take over your business, whether that person is already within your organization or a member of your family. There are times, however, that someone you already know is not the best choice.

As you think about who will take over your business, consider that the best option maybe someone you have not met yet, or someone working for another company. If you are looking at a candidate who works in a related industry, make sure to ask whether they have a non-compete agreement in place. A non-compete does not have to be a deal-breaker, but it may need to be part of your hiring considerations.

When you choose the next leader for your business carefully, you can set it up for success for years to come.