Creating Family Business Dynasties

How does a family business become a dynasty?

It’s all about the “S” word.

Succession. Not to sound like Captain Obvious, but the key to family business longevity and creating a dynasty is succession planning. If it’s so obvious, why do only 12% of family firms make it into the third generation?

The first generation is the founder and works much like a sole proprietorship. The second generation often gets the handoff while the business is still on a growth curve and there are only a few family members involved. The third generation is more complex because the founder is often not present, there are more family members involved and the business may be reaching the maturity stage.

12 Reasons Family Businesses Fail to Become Dynasties:

  1. Senior generation failing to “let go”
  2. No formal timetable and planning for transition
  3. Lack of confidence in younger generation
  4. Senior generation sense of immortality – “I’ll Never Die”
  5. Taboo subject – too sensitive to discuss
  6. Failure getting family members on same page with strategic direction
  7. Late planning too close to transition event
  8. Reluctance to choose next leader between children
  9. Family members in business because of legacy not genuine interest
  10. Family conflicts left unresolved
  11. Inadequate training and coaching of next generation
  12. Business model fails due to lack of innovation in later generations

Kicking the Can Down the Road – No, Not the Federal Budget, I Mean Succession

The government’s decision to avoid further conflict on the debt crisis by putting off key budget reform until next year, reminds me of family businesses who put off succession planning until it reaches a crisis.

Many family businesses avoid succession planning discussions and allow it to just happen. However, unlike the budget, succession planning does eventually happen in one way or another.

The biggest reason we avoid succession planning is it forces us to discuss the most sensitive issues and make even more difficult decisions. This often leads to increased tension and hurts relationships within the family. The perception is that the business consequences of avoiding the issue aren’t worth the personal consequences. More…