Successor Decision is No

     When a successor says NO

As they say, “It takes two to tango.”

When it comes to choosing someone to take over the family business, those words are exactly right. In our previous post, we spoke about the importance of owner’s decision. Nothing hurts a transition more than an owner and a successor who aren’t on the same page—particularly when the latter isn’t sure they even want the job.

On the one hand, reluctant successors love the company and want to see it succeed. For that reason, their fear and insecurity steer them away from taking up the family mantle.

Thankfully, love for the business translates to a desire to stick around. If that’s the case, then future conversations should revolve around training and preparation. If your top choice isn’t ready to take over today, how can you change their mind about tomorrow?

On the other hand, an unwilling successor may find herself ready to lead a business—just not your business. In this case, you’ll need to ask a few critical follow-up questions. Is there something legitimate in this person’s reluctance to take over? Do they see something you don’t see? Or, have they simply not bought into your company’s vision?

Whatever their motive—positive or negative—the challenge for every family business owner in this position will be to discern how best to move forward. Planning is a process. This is just another step in that journey.

Successors may not always want to lead

              Alignment is key

Again, this is why we stress open and honest communication among owner and successor. The conversation may be frightening, but it’s crucial. The sooner you and a successor can learn to tango, the sooner your company can start heading confidently towards the future.

By the way, check out this book if you’re curious about the critical conversations for a smooth succession.


Succession Strength Logo representing seamless transition from generation to generation  Succession Strength, Inc helps entrepreneurs and family business owners pass the business smoothly from owner to heir. Take the free survey today to assess your succession readiness.