Having the talk about the family business…

Do you think that discussing the family business with your younger children is appropriate?  If so, how early can you approach this delicate topic of succession?  One forward looking family did just that as part of their succession plan.  The second generation in this family ranged in age from 10 – 20 years.  None of the children had yet worked in the management of the business.  To their credit, those children old enough 14+ had already been employed as hourly workers during the summer, with the dual purpose of:

1. learning how to earn a living

2. learning something about the business.

How did the parents in this family approach the next generation about the business?  They first approached it by telling the story of their childrens’ grandparents and how the grandparents began the business and the story of how the business succeeded to where it is today.  Their key messages: hard work, dedication and honour.

You have to determine what your key message will be and then weave it into the tale of your business.  Your children may then better understand what it took to get the business to where it is.  You may want to break down the entitlement barrier so that your children do not get the wrong impression that all of the good fortune for your family resulted from hard work and some good luck.