Get a Family Business Advisor

Tim Marwood implores people who are in an intergenerational family business to go out and engage a third party to sit with the family and plan together for the future. Tim is the third-generation leader of a family business that he and his wife moved from dairy farming to gourmet ice cream. He told the story to Small Farms magazine.

Tim’s family came through a lot of emotion, and some conflict, as farming families will know. Letting the family farm go is a very big call. Tim’s dad, in particular, was very concerned about the family legacy, and the work that he, and his father before him, had put into the dairy business.

The new enterprise is now very successful, and the family supportive, but you don’t get to that happy place without a lot of negotiation, soul-searching, and hard-nosed business planning.      

Looking back, Tim has some advice for other families contemplating a similar transition. “Everyone needs to be on the same page with… what is expected and what isn’t expected. [You need] a whole plan that can be laid out to ensure everyone can move forward and be happy doing so.”

And you really, really do need an independent, unbiased, experienced family business advisor/facilitator to help bring that about. Otherwise, you’ll get bogged down in family dynamics (important as they are), and the business will not move forward.

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