After a bit of desktop research, I come across a fact that one of the oldest independent family businesses in the world is Höshi Ryokan, a hotel owned and managed by the Japanese family for almost 1300 years - that's 46 generations! When I read about successes like this, I can't help think of Simba from Disney's The Lion King, and the lessons that passed on from his father, but also all the troubles he ran into having to discovering his own path and ways to rule the kingdom when ... life happens.
So, here I thought I'd jot down some tips for long-term planning that may be helpful for your family business, as well as highlight some hefty roadblocks that may appear along the way.
We know this is unique to every family business so identifying what your comparative advantage is or what potential roadblocks is key. Some discussion areas:
When you’re passing on the baton in a relay race, three metaphorical points to discuss amongst your business:
Does your family business have a central repository that houses all these processes and maps them out? What does the onboarding process look like? Are documents, roles, responsibilities, policies, and procedures easily accessible and understood by all involved?
This is key to successful knowledge transfer and delivering a successful continuity plan.
Like the point above, long-term success planning is more than selecting the next person who will take over running the family business. It may be time to review all leadership roles and begin thinking about the roles for the next generation.
It is absolutely recognised that highly sensitive subjects will need to be discussed and conversations may feel uncomfortable at times. To make a thoughtful transfer of your family business, there are actions taken by each generation to shape the family and business and decades.
Don’t delay planning any further and put measures in place to protect your family business for the long run.