The dream of passing on your business to your children and witnessing the legacy you’ve built continue to flourish is a powerful one. However, inspiring your children to embrace the idea of taking over the family business can present its challenges, and your children may even exhibit resistance to the notion altogether.
Fret not. While you can’t control how your children feel about your business, there are effective ways to inspire them and help them see the value of being a business owner and carrying on a family legacy. With these strategies, you can empower them to become the next leaders of your family business and set your company up for a smooth succession transition when it’s time to retire.
Show Your Kids That You Love What You Do
First things first. It’s hard for someone to take an interest in something if they only hear negative comments about it. Of course, there are going to be many work days that are long, stressful, or tiring, but framing your work as something that gives you a sense of accomplishment rather than fatigue will help pique your children’s interest.
You don’t need to completely hide negative feelings about your work, but keeping a positive attitude about your business when talking about it around your children can go a long way in inspiring them.
For example, if you come home exhausted after a long day, say something like, “Wow, am I tired after today. But we were able to finish the project by our deadline and wow does that feel good.”
By framing challenges as a positive experience, you’ll help your children to appreciate work and the satisfaction they’ll gain from overcoming obstacles and leading a team.
In addition, give your children the opportunity to hear positive feedback from others in your company as well. Invite your kids to company parties or team dinners, and give them the chance to mingle and observe on their own. By seeing you and your team interacting in a positive way and having fun, your child will make the connection that your business is a source of joy in your life.
Introduce Your Kids to The Business Early On
Help your children gain a sense of ownership and independence by providing them with valuable hands-on experience in your business from a young age. Take the time to explain the inner workings of your company, showing them how things operate and involving them in decision-making processes. This active participation will not only foster their curiosity but also empower them to contribute their own ideas and perspectives.
To further ignite their interest and sense of ownership, consider assigning age-appropriate tasks or projects that align with their individual interests and capabilities. Whether it’s organizing files, assisting in customer service, or engaging in other relevant activities, these responsibilities will provide them with a personal connection to the business and instill a sense of responsibility and pride in their contributions.
Even if your children aren’t old enough or interested in working as an employee yet, bringing them into your office and showing them the day-to-day tasks you do will show you appreciate their involvement. Keep communication open around the dinner table or on car rides about things happening in your business and encourage your children to provide their input.
By actively engaging them in these ways, you are nurturing their growth as future business leaders and will likely cultivate a passion for the family business.
Let Someone Else Be Their Boss
If your children are at an appropriate age, offer them a position at your company, but keep their expectations humble. Start your child in an entry-level position like you would any other newcomer. This will keep your child grounded while also assuring employees that you won’t show favoritism to your own family members.
Have your children rotate through the different departments or tasks of your company so they can gain skills and knowledge of each one.
And while it might be tempting to oversee and mentor your child yourself (after all, you know your business best!) give the role to someone else. By having your child report to another seasoned employee, you give them the space to work and learn independently without feeling like you’re standing over their shoulder or pressuring them to perform.
This also gives them the chance to form meaningful mentorships with other valuable members of your team and improve their own independence and responsibility because they know they won’t be able to cut corners or avoid discipline if they aren’t reporting to their parent.
Give Them Space to Have Other Experiences
Finally, encourage your kids to have experiences outside of the family business. While it’s natural to want your children to follow in your footsteps, it’s important to recognize that they have their own dreams and goals.
Encourage them to pursue their own interests, whether it’s in sports, arts, or any other field. Support their passions and provide opportunities for them to explore and grow outside of the family business.
By giving them the freedom to pursue their own paths, you allow them to develop a sense of identity and purpose beyond the family business. This will also help them gain a broader perspective and a range of skills that can be valuable in any endeavor they choose to pursue.
Ultimately, inspiring your kids to take over the family business requires a delicate balance of encouragement, exposure, and allowing them to chart their own course. By showing your love for what you do, involving them in the business, providing them with diverse experiences, and supporting their individual aspirations, you can create an environment that fosters their interest and empowers them to become the next generation of business leaders in your family.
Planning Your Business Succession Starts Today
While it might seem like the day you turn in your office keys is far in the future, the most effective succession planning for your business begins today.
As your Personal Family Lawyer®, I know that passing on a business is more than just selling your company to the highest bidder. It’s about instilling your values and your passion into the next generation of leaders over time and inspiring your own family to become a part of your legacy.
If you aren’t sure how to have conversations with your children about your business or your goals for its succession, give me a call. My passion is supporting business owners to achieve not just their financial goals, but their personal and lifestyle goals as well.
This article is a service of Trust Counsel, Personal Family Lawyer®. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Business Breakthrough Session, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.
The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Trust Counsel, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.