The "success-o-meter" is an extensive knowledge self-assessment online tool, which helps different target groups (predecessors and successors).
How do people find specific knowledge when they are researching information for a transfer or a takeover of a company? How can they determine if they are ready to start such a process?
The success-o-meter helps to uncover knowledge-gaps in respective categories which targets different groups: entrepreneurs/predecessors, internal successors (members of an entrepreneur-family), external successors and people interested in the overall process.
The test consists of up to 16 unique questions that address the preparation and process of succession, the personal attitudes towards succession planning, economic security and “emergency” planning.
Each question can be answered by "agree" or "disagree" and has a specific link to further information and thus creates a unique information sheet for each user.
The “success-o-meter” offers a free-for-all access (no login or registration is required, and it is free). Since business succession is seen as a sensitive topic, anonymity of user-data is of utmost importance for the trustworthiness of the tool.
The “success-o-meter” was developed on the basis of an academic literature review as well as practice-relevant questions from the user’s point of view.

Resources needed

(1) Content requirements: a country-specific set of questions concerning regional differences, regional institutions.
(2) Technical requirements: intermediate programming skills (creating a frontend mask with a link to a MySQL database to store individual user data

Evidence of success

Currently 20,399 people have taken the success-o-meter test. 5042 predecessors, 4609 internal successors, 6206 external successors and 4560 who were looking for general knowledge about the process. The scientific validity of the tool has been peer-reviewed at an international conference and is currently being published in a German journal.

Difficulties encountered

With regard to a scientific evaluation we have had the problem that no personal data (due to privacy issues) has been collected. These missing data points make it difficult to do in-depth statistical analysis (e.g. regression analysis is also not possible with nominally scaled data).

Potential for learning or transfer

In business transfer general knowledge about the different steps (also different target groups) can be seen of utmost importance. It is quite challenging to make implicit knowledge explicit by questions alone. Therefore the methodology of “agreeing” or “not agreeing” to statements to compare these to the own issues helps in getting clearer answers. This tool allows precisely this. Other regions can easily adapt the question pattern, the means of logic in programming. And a framework for evaluating the individual country-specific needs in business succession regarding different target groups. The tool is ideal as a low-maintenance aid for all.

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Main institution
Institute for Entrepreneurship, German Mittelstand and Family Firms (EMF)
Berlin, Germany (Deutschland)
Start Date
April 2013
End Date


Sandy Morgen Please login to contact the author.

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