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Sustainability and Succession of a Family Business By Armando O. Bartolome

Running a family business is pure hard word. It was built to primarily be the source of living for the family with the goal of preserving its legacy for the succeeding generations. However, to continue the family business and pass it on to the next generation is very crucial.

There are so many factors that can affect in sustaining the family business. But the most important thing is to have good relationship and better communication among family members. Not all members of the family may be interested in pursuing the business because they might want to explore on other things and would rather be just behind the limelight. However, the first generation would not just take a complete stop if they feel that the responsibility of managing the company needs to be passed on.

To have a good succession plan with clean description of the roles of each member and all other rules that need to be followed should be very clear. One common mistake, though, in passing the responsibility to a family member is when his knowledge and skills are not aligned to the kind of family business. While the founder may want all his children to be one day the leaders of his company, the best way to do is to let his children work in other companies to gain experience after which they can apply to their own company. There should be enough time for the second generation to grow and learn prior to taking on the hat.

Other problems encountered in a family business is when the first generation refuses to step down and lacks the confidence that the successor may not be able to maintain good management of the company. It is known as the “sticky baton syndrome”. There are parents who think that their children may be too weak to handle the company themselves that they insist on still taking part in all the decision-making for the company. And this creates squabbles among the family members as one of the children would probably say, “How could we implement change that will go along with the demands of our clients if dad refuses to hear our ideas and insist on his old techniques and strategies?”

A member from the second generation may feel that after working for some time, he no longer feel that he is as effective as before. Either he wants to try working in another company or he is trying to avoid some issues that the company may have. Either way, when one feels unhappy with his work, there has to be a solution to straighten up things. Sometimes, we all burn out from our everyday work since it may have become a routine. And to break that monotony, all we really need is some time off. There may also be a need to seek some expert advice on how to deal with the situation. If this family member is 100% sure that he want to step out of the family business, he must talk to his family and let them understand his reason behind it. Better communication eliminates the possibility of having conflicts and burn bridges.

There are times that one may feel too stressed to face all the challenges in a company that leads to an untimely decision of giving up on it. Family members need to support one another during these times. A crisis in the business is not only for one to solve but for everyone. The success of any kind of business relies on the cooperation and the knowledge of a skilled management team. Everyone should be rowing at the same time- same pace and same direction.

One scenario which also threatens the family business - when there are clashing of ideas between family members, and employees are caught between the fight.

Family members need to realize that they should keep their personal issues apart from business affairs. When we get too emotional with certain issues, we tend to make the wrong decisions. Allow time to pass and let our minds clear a bit prior to making a decision. See things in a constructive way other than let your emotions rule over you.

Here are few questions to help you decide if you want to continue the legacy of your family business:

• Why did you accept to take the job in the family business? Was it your dream to be part of the business? Or were you compelled to work because you know that it will please your family?

• Do you no longer feel the same enthusiasm as its founder?

• Do you think that more than wanting to preserve your family’s legacy is to focus on what truly interests you?

• Were your expectations not met?

These are just a few things that one needs to think about in order to decide if the family business is still worth pursuing. In order to grow, everyone must have a common goal and interest. Not unless these are met, it will be a complete waste of time, money and effort to continue a business that clearly has no future to pursue onto the next generation.

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