Right now, and in the coming years, thousands of family businesses in Australia will face a crisis. The founders are at or near the time to hand the baton to a new generation. Many will be looking for a buyer; most, sadly, will not find one. Too many people have already had to lock up for the last time, and walk away from 30 or 40 years of hard work.
If yours is a family business, and you hope to hand it on, as a legacy and an ongoing source of prosperity, it is never too soon to start planning. In this matter, there are failures and great successes, and the biggest single difference is planning.
At Upland Consulting, we hear many family business owners say, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” The sad fact is they won’t. By the time the issue is forced, by a health crisis or otherwise, there won’t be time to do the job properly.
Start now. Get the kids and grandies and all around the kitchen table, and start talking together. Start with the family and its priorities, not with the business (they are different). Start thrashing out who is going to be involved and who not; how you will look after everyone, from the retirees to the unborn.
Above all, write it down. Thrash out a family agreement, whatever way works for you. Write it, improve it, and then: all sign it. It’s only a start, but it’s the best place to start.