any many reasons why patriarchs and matriarchs often have great difficulty
letting go of the power and ownership of the family business. These may include
(as with Queen Elizabeth) a fierce sense of duty, intense popularity, deep familiarity
with the business, a desire to complete the heroic mission, and, not
uncommonly, an unconscious fear of his or her mortality. Sometimes, however,
family business owners lack confidence in the next generation or cannot find a
suitable successor among them.
Business succession seems to be
a hot topic as of late, what with the aging baby boomer generation set to start
passing on the baton to the next generation.
If you are a baby boomer
business owner, then consider a family that has some real life experience in
managing successful successions – the Royal Family.
For some royal perspective and
thoughts on the young Prince George Alexander Louis (the instant media darling
and infant son of Prince William and Kate Middleton), WealthManagement.com recently offered an article titled “A Lesson from the Royals: Succession Is a
Succession really is a two way
street. In one lane, it is the king stepping down to name his successor. In the
other lane, it is his successor seeking to prove himself worthy to be the king.
The principal is the same in business, and yes, even in small family
The perennial problem is that a
business requires tested leadership and ability. Unfortunately, real life
experience is a very difficult thing to acquire until you are actually holding
the reins. That noted, few business owners are comfortable handing over reins
even to their own successors.
If you are a would-be-king, then
there are some principles to learn to prove yourself, to stand out, and to step
up to the task on your own. Fortunately, the original article offers some
And then there is the other
side. As the current business owner – king of all you oversee – you also need
to be mindful to give your successor some “playing time” while you can coach
The actual act of transferring
the business can be complicated, for reasons legal and financial. As with any
“dance,” timing is key.
If your family business is worth
keeping afloat, then the successful succession of its leadership is as great a
goal worthy of your time and focus.
The Owner has retired; God save
For more information and articles on
estate planning and elder law topics, please visit our website
and sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter. You can also friend
our law practice's Facebook page (R Christine Brown).
(August 30, 2013) “A Lesson from the Royals: Succession Is a