Running a family business is a labor of love. And there are numerous benefits to passing a family-run business down to the next generation. However, there are also many challenges.
If you are hoping your children will take over the family business someday, your best bet is to start preparing them now.
Get them involved early
Children of any age can play a role in a family business.
- Young kids can learn a lot from your example. Invite them to spend time alongside you at work, introduce them to people who help you run your business and talk to them about your projects in an age-appropriate way.
- Older children can start playing a more active role. You might bring them to events or have them help you with jobs like delivering things around the office or assisting you with computer work.
- You might formally hire your teenager to work at the business and start including them in family leadership meetings. At this age, they can also benefit from connecting with a non-familial mentor in the company who can provide guidance.
When you involve your children in these ways, they can get valuable insight into the history of the business and the realities of running it.
Don’t undermine outside experience
Your children may or may not want to follow exactly in your footsteps. In either case, do not overlook the importance of real-world business experience they may have had at other entities and institutions.
For instance, they might not major in business at college, but that does not make their educational experience less valuable. And even if they want to work at a place where their friends work after school, the job exposure can still help them build tools they can use to one day run your company.
Address conflict before it gets ugly
Family businesses are not immune from conflict. In fact, family disputes can be quite contentious because of the personal and professional relationships involved.
You can lessen the impact these disputes have on the business by encouraging constructive feedback, creating a framework for resolving conflict, and working with mediators, if necessary.
Further, developing a business succession plan can be wise. This plan determines what happens to your company when you retire or pass away so that others are not left battling over the fate of the business you built.