Keeping It in the Family

Successful Succession of the Family Business

by James W. Lea

Number of pages: 224

Publisher: Wiley

BBB Library: Corporate Success

ISBN: 978-0471539131

About the Author

James W. Lea, Ph.D., is founder and Director of the INTRAH Program, a $55 million international manpower development program which is actively involved in training and systems development in 30 countries. He is a 20-year veteran of corporate consulting, specializing in research, design, production, and delivery of professional development programs for corporations, associations, and institutions. In addition, Dr. Lea is also an Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.


Editorial Review

Keeping It in the Family is about how you, as the owner of a business, can plan and carry out the transfer of your company to your children or other family members. It's also about how a prospective successor to a family business can prepare for future ownership and management. It is a step-by-step guide through a very complex, often frustrating, and sometimes heartbreaking process. Looking at the good and bad experiences of business owners, successors, and families, it analyzes their brilliant strokes and their great mistakes; it also summarizes the lessons learned by others and suggests how they can be applied to planning for the continuity of your own family business.

Book Reviews

"A realistic view of the ins and outs of ownership succession of a family-owned business, it guides the owner or prospective successor of a family-owned business through the complex and often frustrating succession process."

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Wisdom to Share

A family-owned company can be either the most flexible or the most cumbersome of business structures. When only a few family members share decision-making authority, a company can be aggressive in the marketplace and quickly respond to changes in the business environment.

A succession process that either transforms an entrepreneurial business into a family business or extends family business ownership into the next generation can accentuate both the strengths and the vulnerabilities of the family and the business.

By mixing business dynamics with family dynamics, succession may produce new family stresses and throw a company into chaos, or it may form some very successful relationships among family members and carry the company to a new performance plateau.

To succeed, ownership and management succession must include pre-planning analysis, developing a succession plan, managing the ownership transfer, monitoring the transition, and finishing cleanly when the retiring owner hands over control.

A thorough analysis is particularly important in preparing for ownership succession in the family business because it can make the difference between a general plan that looks good in a management manual and a specific one that promotes ownership continuity of this business by this family.

A business owner takes a big step toward ensuring the continuity of the business by beginning to work up a strategy for marketing it to the family.

The most critical factor in assuring the continuity of an entrepreneurial or family-owned business is advance planning.

The completed succession plan should clearly describe the family's succession process and the actions that should be taken to ensure successful succession. It should work like an operations manual, with the important goals stated in priority and the steps set down in their logical sequence.

Just because the business changes family management and ownership, it shouldn't toss aside the outgoing senior owner's wealth of experience, capability, and hard-won wisdom.

Planning and managing the succession of family business ownership can be one of the most demanding things a businessperson ever does. But that last step, letting go when the business's continuity into the next generation has been secured, can be the most satisfying moment since nailing that first earned dollar to the wall. It's a rite of passage, the time for a celebration, not a wake, and it ought to be big, loud, and happy.