We’ve all seen something like this play out on TV:

  • Parent succeeds in life (builds a business, wins notoriety, etc.).
  • Parent wants the same for Child.
  • Child doesn’t want Parent’s life.
  • Tension builds.
  • Conflict ensues.
  • Resolution occurs.
  • Credits roll.

We’re sorry to say this familiar family business trope shows up in family business all the time. Only, there’s no studio audience, and it often ends up with dissolution rather than resolution.

As we tell our clients, the key to avoiding this unhappy ending is communication. The trouble is, the day-to-day pressures of running a business (compounded by the complexities of family relationships) keep these conversations from ever taking place.

The solution is clear enough: have the conversation. But how that conversation should unfold is somewhat murky. Unfortunately, this isn’t television; there’s no script to read.

Owners of a family business do well to keep two fundamental objectives in mind:

  1. Learn whether or not a potential successor is, in fact, interested in taking over the company.
  2. During the conversation, affirm the successor to strengthen the relationship, and seek the good of all parties—regardless of whether the desired successor shows signs of not being in alignment.

Have you and your chosen successor discussed their future role in the company? Conversations like these are often tricky. But, in the end, they lead to much-needed clarity for family business owners and successors alike.  That clarity could just make the difference between a family business that successfully thrives into the next generation and one that doesn’t. By the way, if you’re not sure how to have the conversation, this step-by-step guide may help.

succession strength logo Succession Strength, Inc helps entrepreneurs and family business owners pass the business smoothly from owner to heir. Take the free assessment to gauge whether your family owned business is ready for a succession.