31-05-2010

The future is in your hands

Even a loss of turnover could be seen as positive to some as it may reflect a review of business operations, cessation of loss-making divisions or diversification. Trying to ensure that a business is in good shape to trade this year, next year and in 5 years time requires long term strategic planning.

Some of the best examples of business longevity are family businesses.  The names may evolve along with the product ranges but the culture behind the business continues. Many family businesses look to the long term future – trying to ensure that there will be a business fit for the next generation to take over in 20 years time.   

Having a clear understanding about what is expected from the next generation is key. Do your children, nephews and nieces have the automatic right to join the business? Many children are lured into the family business by the promise of a comfortable salary and title status, where all too often the recipient neither has the skills nor experience to warrant this. This can undermine the position of the rest of the senior management team when faced with taking orders from the inexperienced boss’s son or daughter.  Should you therefore have eligibility criteria for joining the business such as relevant skills training? A family construction business for example would be better served by an architecture or civil engineering qualification, so an agreement as to the further education needs of the next generation may take place whilst they are still at school, ensuring their skills are aligned to the business profile.

Planning for retirement is something we are all encouraged to think about as soon as we start working, however, family businesses will also need to plan for succession, not just in terms of financing an exit for the current owners but also in terms of ensuring that the next generation have the right attributes for the future success of the business. Just think, with long term plans in place you might be appearing on the 2020 Top 100 companies survey and beyond…