Creating a Succession Plan

Subscribe to Elliot's BlogI spent much of yesterday afternoon at a chemotherapy center with my Aunt, which made me think about a few things, including my own mortality. While I am thankful to be healthy, life changing events can happen at almost any time. Being a domain investor/developer puts me in a position that is different from many others, and I think we need to think about a succession plan should unexpected something happen.
The most important thing is to make sure a loved one (wife, child, brother, parent…etc) or other trusted person knows about your business. They should know details such as registrars, domain holdings, passwords, email accounts, forums, parking companies, partners, clients, bank accounts and other details. If something happens to you, it’s important that someone trusted knows what to do with your business. Here are some things I recommend:
Let your trusted person know which registrars you use, the account numbers, and the passwords (kept in a safe and secure location). If you have an Account Manager at the registrar, the trusted person should have your AM’s email address to make sure domains are paid up and accessible if liquidation is necessary.
For those of you who develop your domain names, a trusted person should know what agreements you have in place with advertisers – or at least know where to find your agreements. While advertisers and partners will be understanding if something happens, money is money, and they will eventually expect to have their agreements honored or their payments refunded.
For those of you who rely mostly on PPC, a trusted person should know the contacts at your parking company. You will want to make sure your revenue continues to be paid regularly.
Your important domain contacts, clients, forum login names, and other industry accounts should be known to your trusted person. If liquidation is necessary, you’d want the names to sell for the most money possible, so it’s important that the trusted person know where to sell them.
Your sales and tax records are important things that your trusted person will need to know where to find. The government will still expect to be paid based on your sales from that year no matter what happens to you.
I am sure you will want your trusted person to take over your business or to liquidate your domain names, and they will need to know how to do so. For those of you who have full fledged businesses with strong PPC earnings or developed website earnings, the business should probably be maintained or sold – rather than just the domain names being liquidated. When deciding, you should take your trusted person’s interest in the business into consideration. If you would want your domain names to be sold, you should let your trusted person know what names you own, which are most valuable, and how to sell them.
While your business isn’t the most important thing that someone will be thinking about if something should happen to you, it is important that someone know what to do in the event of an unexpected life changing event.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Thanks for some wise words of wisdom. Funny enough I was thinking about my own mortality a few days ago and made me realise I won’t be here forever. So having an exit and succession plan is very vital.

  2. Thanks for writing this Elliot. As a new father with a 1-year old son its something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’ve been steadily getting things in order (will, life insurance, etc). And next on the list is my domain “succession plan”. Probably the hardest thing for me will be identifying the right trusted person. Its not for a shortage of trusted people in my life, but identifying someone who really has an understanding of this business.
    I was actually thinking that this could be a great idea for a business – maybe someone else does too as is registered (not mine).

  3. I hope you Aunt is ok Elliot!
    It’s very true statement what would we do if something happend?
    My Fiance knows that I am involved in the domain business and know my password to my laptop and email but she doesnt know what I do on a daily basis and what one of my domains is worth etc?
    I think we could set up some sort of assocation to help teach our loved one / partners etc of what we own…
    Most people still dont think Domains are Assets which is very worrying…
    Again lets hope you Aunt pulls through!

  4. Every company that is owned/run by one person, with just a few employee’s is in this position.
    Take a CNC mill shop, which the midwest has 1000’s of. Usually 4-6 guys one of which is the owner, contact guy. Everyone makes a good living until the owner die’s.
    Who is going to run it?
    Anyone can process orders, but who can keep selling, making sure the money is there.
    Your problem is NOT unique.
    Your problem is no one understands your type of business, and anyone that would help you heirs, would likely “steal” all your “worthless” since your next of kin would have no real clue on what intrinsic value is.
    So the best thing for you to do is educate the people in your will on what to do, mom, dad, aunt, uncles (wife, could be dangerous in divorce), to manage your company.
    Since she could claim your domains are worth X Million and you only have $50k in the bank :). So you get all the debt and she gets all assets, just like johnny carson learned.

  5. Elloit —
    Execellent advice. It made me think about some of my own health issues I had a few years back. I had prepared with life insurance, but I didn’t have enough disability insurance. In other words, if I died, my family would be taken care of, but if I lived, my income would be drastically lower and my family would suffer. Lesson learned. (Hey, I think I just came up with an idea for a blog post :-))
    Best wishes to your aunt. I’ve had the pleasure of chemotherapy and it’s not much fun.

  6. It is a very interesting topic and unfortunately it is hard to find attorneys who know anything about this stuff. I agree with the previous commenter but would document instructions on how to run the business, how the domains work, etc. At least if you document it along with your accounts and passwords people who have to write a will know what they are dealing with.

  7. Continuing the business/s will probably be too hard and probably impossible. The best option I see is to have a trusted “broker” to sell if need be. Luckily in our business there are more than a few good guys who know their stuff so if it came down to that it’s probably the best option and what I would want done.
    True – if you are a straight-up domainer it might be tough for someone else to have the same intuition. However, if you are a developer and have sites with many advertisers, it might be worthwhile to give a trusted person the opportunity to sell the business as a business rather than just selling domain names.

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