Succession planning – considerations for the older generation

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John Broons

John Broons is a globally awarded family business expert. One of only three people in Australia to hold the coveted title of Fellow of Family Firm Institute (Boston, USA), John has dedicated his working career to answering the question: how do I guide and support families in business to a place where they’re thriving?

Passing the torch from one generation to the next in a family business is a time of reflection and transition, filled with both excitement and trepidation. As the older generation, looking to hand over the reins, you have the opportunity to shape the future of your family’s legacy. Let’s explore some considerations, both from a business and personal perspective, as you embark on this important transition.

Succession planning – considerations for the older generation
Identify a capable successor

From a business standpoint, it’s crucial to ensure a smooth handover that maintains the stability and growth of the company. Start by identifying a capable successor within the family. This person should not only possess the necessary skills and passion but also embody the shared values that have made your business what it is today. Keep in mind that expertise can be developed, but alignment with the family’s vision is something that runs deeper.

Getting the right advice is critical

Alongside finding the right successor, it’s imperative to establish a clear and comprehensive succession plan. This plan should encompass various aspects, including legal and financial considerations, leadership roles, and communication strategies. Take the time to consult with professionals who specialise in family business succession, as they can guide you through the intricacies of estate planning, tax implications, and ownership transitions.

Embracing emotions and personal connections

Now, let’s consider the personal side of things. As you pass on the baton, it’s natural to experience a mix of emotions. Pride in the accomplishments of your family business, joy in seeing it flourish under new leadership, and perhaps even a twinge of nostalgia for the days when you were at the helm. Embrace these emotions and use them as fuel to maintain a strong connection with both the business and your family.

Consider mentorship and advisory roles

Remember, the transition doesn’t mean you have to completely sever ties with the business. Consider taking on a mentorship role or becoming an advisor to the new leadership team. Your experience and wisdom are invaluable assets that can continue to contribute to the success of the business.

Prioritise your own well-being

At the same time, it’s essential to prioritise your own well-being during this transition. Explore new passions, spend quality time with loved ones, and create a fulfilling life beyond the business. Reflect on your achievements and celebrate the legacy that you’ve built. After all, being part of a family business is a source of great pride and joy.

So, as you embark on the journey of handing over the family business, keep these considerations in mind. Be proactive in setting up a strong succession plan, find a successor who embodies the family’s values, and nurture a positive connection with both the business and your personal life. Embrace the next chapter of your life while cherishing the memories and lessons of the past. You’ve built something truly special, and now it’s time to ensure its enduring success for the generations to come.

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Owning a family business is a source of immense pride and joy. It represents the fruits of your family's labour, passed down through generations. Yet, the concept of ownership in a family business is far from straightforward. It encompasses both legal and emotional dimensions, creating a complex dual ownership structure that requires careful navigation.
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