I remember when I was a teenager, there were snippets of conversations around the dinner table as to who would take over our family jewellery business. My older sister was studying acting and drama in New York, and my older brother was studying law. Therefore it was just assumed that I would be one to take over... funny that huh.

Rather than reflect on my own journey, it’s an important question that each business owner needs to ask at some point in time.

The old world thinking that the next generation should naturally take over is just that... old world thinking. The importance of succession planning is critical, however the questions one needs to ask are:

  • Does the family member earmarked for this position really want to carry on in the family business?
  • Has the chosen family member even considered other options, other professions?
  • Are they capable of not just maintaining the business but growing it?

Is there another member in the family who has these desires and possibly a greater skill set, or maybe a great personality coupled with additional training better suited?

Let's now look outside the box. I would suggest that you objectively look at your employees. There could well be people who you are employing who have the desire, ambition and/or ability to grow this business. This is without doubt a very challenging idea for a family business.

There could be many ways to consider the future. It might be a combination of the two, bringing an employee/employees into the ownership of the business, as well as a family member/s. If this is done carefully with a well thought out plan and communicated in a manner that all parties can see the enormous benefit of harnessing each other’s skill sets, a great result could be achieved.

I believe that the sooner you undertake such a process you become a consultant in your own business. You will identify those areas where skills may be lacking in your personnel and even yourself, and now you have the ability to assist in setting the stage for a great future.

Just think how amazing and beneficial it could have been for you to have had a team around you when you were building the business, or when it was handed over to you.

I was inspired to rate this commentary based on an article I read recently, which touched on how two owners of the business transferred the direction of the company to 2 employees and reversed roles as the first step to their succession of ownership.

Here is an inspiring example of how two owners of a business transferred the direction of the company to their two employees, and reversed roles as the first step to their succession of ownership: