Nearly six in 10 Canadian small business owners do not have a succession plan, according to a new report.

BMO Financial Group, Toronto, published this finding in a summary of results from a new report conducted by Leger Marketing, Montreal. Completed in April, the study polled 500 Canadian business owners.

The report finds that most of Canada’s small businesses (58%) do not have a succession plan. When asked why, more than a third (36%) of the respondents say that it is too early to begin thinking such a plan.

On a positive note, the report observes that 42% of owners who do have a succession plan represents a 15% increase over those who reported having one in 2010, when BMO last polled small business owners on this question.

BMO’s 2012 study also reveals that:

Of those businesses with 10 employees or more, half had a succession plan; two-thirds of business with fewer than 10 employees report they do not have a plan.

One-third (36%) of Canadian small business owners want to keep their businesses in the family.

More than one-quarter (26%) would select an outside source to buy out their business.