My business began small, just my brother and me. We never dreamed that our humble shoe making business would grow the way it did. It was when we took the plunge and opened a factory in Sydney that we knew we had to make a start on our business succession planning. Our first choice was my eldest son. As business owners, we knew he was perfect. He had leadership skills, intelligence and a great work ethic making him perfect for the role. Succession planning in business can be tricky, but he was an obvious pick. Moreover, he was our only choice. My daughter had moved to Poland and my brother didn’t have any kids. My son was our only shot at keeping the business going.
We revealed our business succession planning checklist to my son when he turned eighteen. I thought he would be happy. We were offering him a direct path to success. He wouldn’t have to go through the hardships and difficulties that my brother and I had to go through. It took us years to develop and create this business. It took us even longer to acquire the list of clients we have now. My brother and I thought for sure he would go along with our business succession plan. But to our complete and utter shock, my son said no. He told us he wanted nothing to do with our business and that his passions lay elsewhere.
My son and I didn’t talk for weeks, the subject if succession planning looking over us like a dark cloud. I was furious at him. This was my greatest success and he rejected it in favour of an artistic career. I couldn’t understand it.
After about a month, my son finally approached me. He explained why he refused to take over the business and why our checklist held no appeal to him. He said that taking over the family business would make him miserable. However, he admitted that he always expected us to hand over the business to one of our newer recruits who was passionate about shoe making.
So you see, succession planning for businesses does not always go as panned. You can’t expect the younger generation to have the same dream as you. Just find the next most trustworthy and capable person and have faith that they will continue to love and nurture your business once you’re gone.