As many business owners with older children look forward to the inexpensive help over the summer break, this may be as good a time as any to begin discussing with those children the future of the family business.
My kids are just teenagers, why would I talk to them about this now?
In many families, it is the parents who make many decisions about the future of their children – deciding if and where they will attend school, what type of career choices would be best for their financial future, etc. In families where a small business is involved, many parents consider the legacy of the business as another decision that they will make, one that passes down from one generation to the next automatically.
The problem with this assumption occurs when your child (or children) don’t want to spend their lives running your business and in fact have dreams and passions of their own. These dreams and passions tend to take shape as children get ready for life after high school, and as such it is important for everyone in the family to be on the same page as to what everyone wants for the future.
I bought/started this business so I could give it to my children, and they’ve known this since they were little. Why is there a need for discussion?
In some circumstances a child who was brought up in the family business learns the same passion their parents have and thrives as the next generation of business owner when the parents retire.
Unfortunately (for the parent’s plans) most children of small business owners have aspirations of their own, and those aspirations don’t involve following in mom and dad’s footsteps. If the parents in this situation don’t allow for their child to follow their own path and instead insist on handing over the family business – the outcome is usually not positive.
As a business owner, you understand that it takes an incredible amount of passion and drive to be a successful entrepreneur. This life means long hours, high stress and a huge amount of personal responsibility. It can be nearly impossible to sustain that necessary passion and drive if you never had it in the first place, so many times what happens is a child takes over a business so the parents can retire only to run that business straight into the ground.
How can I preserve the legacy of my family business if my kids don’t want to run it?
If you have a conversation with your children about the future of your family business and it turns out that they are not interested in running it themselves, you can still continue the family legacy of entrepreneurship by selling your family business when you retire and using the proceeds to invest in a business opportunity that suits the aspirations of your children. This situation allows for the needed passion and drive to be a successful entrepreneur while allowing you as a parent to pass on the entrepreneurial legacy that you’ve built.
Do you own a family business you have always assumed your kids would get? Have your children expressed interest in doing something else? Would you like to know what a business like yours would currently sell for? Ask us! Please feel free to leave us comments or questions here and we would be happy to help.
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Fort Myers, FL 33907