Father and son ready to work

Bringing Your Kids into the Family Business

3 min read • Jun 25, 2019 • Grant Olsen

Many Baby Boomers have followed their dreams over the years and built small businesses with great pride. But 2018 was a critical year for such businesses, as Baby Boomers retired in record numbers. In fact, each day, 10,000 Baby Boomers hung up their hats and stopped working, a trend that is expected to continue.

So what happens to all those family businesses? According to a report from Inc., it’s still a popular option to turn the reins over to family members.

“Many entrepreneurs who start and grow a business hope that someday their family–specifically their children–will take over running the company,” writes business leader Jim Schleckser. “Even better, the business would pass from generation to generation into the future. That’s a legacy that appeals to many of us.”

While there are advantages to keeping it in the family, transitions can be tricky. For one thing, those who build businesses from the ground up are accustomed to putting in the work and making the necessary sacrifices. They’ve demonstrated the grit and determination to survive.

But will their children care as much? Will they be willing to live the lifestyle of a small business owner? Often, the answer to these questions is a hard “no.” And that’s not necessarily an indictment against the younger generations. They may simply have different priorities and want different things in life.

So before considering possible succession plans, call a family meeting. Find out if your kids want a leadership role in the business. Discuss the demands of the role. Gauge their commitment level.

Here are some additional tips for bringing your kids into the family business:

Help them prepare

Before your child can assume command, they’ll need to get the necessary foundation. You may have graduated from the school of hard knocks, but it could be a good idea to steer them into a formal education that’ll empower them for success.

Also, make sure they get work experience outside of your company. Ideally, they’ll work within the industry but at a different business where they can learn the ropes and gain new perspectives.

Wait until they’re ready

While you may be anxious to hand over the reins, don’t rush it. The most important thing is setting your child up for success. One way to do this is to let your child work their way up through the ranks in your company, rather than putting them into a leadership role before they’re ready. Doing so allows them to experience all levels of the business while also getting to know more employees.

Make a clear plan

Perhaps you have multiple children who would like to be part of your business. Take the time to establish their individual roles, which helps reduce confusion or jealousy. By giving them opportunities to showcase their unique talents, you’ll improve their engagement and collaboration in one fell swoop.

Say goodbye

Once you’ve brought your children into the business, don’t head out the door quite yet. Plan on some overlap, so they can have you close at hand to provide counsel and help resolve issues.

By sticking around long enough to help them get their footing, you’ll send a clear message to your family of how important your business is to you. And, more importantly, how important they are to you.

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Grant Olsen

Grant Olsen is a writer specializing in small business loans, leadership skills, and growth strategies. He is a contributing writer for KSL 5 TV, where his articles have generated more than 6 million page views, and has been featured on FitSmallBusiness.com and ModernHealthcare.com. Grant is also the author of the book "Rhino Trouble." He has a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University.