Family Run Business
How do I transition my business to the next generation?
My Concern: I am trying to balance the needs of my family and that of my business. I have children with differing capabilities and varying interest and passion for the business. The stakes are about as high as it gets, and I know I only have one chance to get it right.
Bryan: The stress of owning and running a business pales in comparison to the fear caused by thinking about all the ways this can go sideways. My role here is to guide both you and your family through this minefield while simultaneously decreasing your stress. I have the experience of both guiding families through the minefield and knowing what is it like having done it myself working for my family business.
My Concern: I need an exit strategy before my kids are ready.
Bryan: Sometimes the answer is to hire a nonfamily general manager or president to be a mentor to the next generation and fill the leadership gap. Depending on the situation, a business coach can be a very cost-effective alternative.
My Concern: My spouse and I aren’t on the same page.
Bryan: Choices and perceptions are largely made up of knowledge, values, and priorities. Many times having a third party can fill the knowledge gap and help prioritize what’s important. The result is the removal of fear (and the accompanying stress) and developing a unified path forward. If there is goodwill and affection between the business owner and the spouse, this can be the effect. If there is not, I recommend marriage counselling as the first step (business coaching can come later).
My Concern: How will my employees (especially senior management and long-term employees) view this?
Bryan: This is a valid concern. My experience has been that there are two extreme positions of parents bringing children into the family run business (and not much in between). The one extreme is that the parent says, “this is my beloved son/daughter; hear ye him/her and get out of the way”. The other is “Son (or daughter), you will do it as good or better than anybody else in this company or you won’t be around very long” (this was actually a quote from my father to me before starting in our family business). The problem is, that while most business owners take the latter path (as my father did), most employees assume the former position. I have dubbed this as the “Silver Spoon Perspective”. There are some very specific things (some obvious and others not so much) that can be done to address this. As the Family Business Coach and a third-generation family business owner, I have experience guiding families through this process.