Family Business Succession Planning

If you’ve ever tried to run a family business, you know how stressful and emotional it can be.

In fact, if you’ve ever tried to run a family, you know how stressful and emotional it can be.

But if there’s one thing we all agree is more important than money, it’s family. When it comes time for your family business to do succession planning, you can be sure that emotions will run high. But why? Why is it so difficult? Here are a couple of challenges you will come up against in the succession process.

The first one is finding a suitable candidate to succeed you. There is a lot of politics involved in this. Maybe you choose someone from inside your family. Maybe you don’t. When you do choose, make sure it’s in conference with them– especially if they’re from your family. You might be surprised to hear that not every child is willing to succeed their parent in the business. Never assume: always ask. It’s a really good policy to have.

Here’s where it gets even more complicated. Maybe you want to keep the business in the family, but in the process of succession planning you find that your child is not sufficiently skilled.  Perhaps they can be trained. A good succession plan will tell you the following: training and development is part of any successful succession plan. Even if you’re passing it onto a trusted employee, there may be things that they don’t know that you need to tell them.

And of course there are! You serve an important function in your business: don’t deny this. This is actually a problem endemic to small business. The principal of the business serves such an important role that they are virtually irreplaceable. But a good succession plan helps you transfer the weight of your role to someone else, or to another business that buys your business. But in the case of a family business, maybe it is actually better to transfer that role than to an existing family member than another entity entirely.

The family business has great gravitas and trust in relation to your customers: they trust you because your family is so ingrained within the business and they make a personal relationship with you. So even though it is an emotional and tough time, it’s important to you and your customers that you persevere. Keep up the spirit with which you run your business: start succession planning early and get the best result.