In this issue
Generation of family ownership: Third.
Company revenue for 2008: $88.4 million.
Number of employees: 115 plus agents and drivers.
Years with the company: 35, but I left and worked for another company for ten years in between.
First job at this company: Switch-board operator.
At what age? 19.
One of the many challenges in family business succession involve the creation of what I call “unnatural business partners.” Just because you and your family members are related by blood doesn’t mean you will be successful business partners, co-fiduciaries, shareholders or coworkers. Yet many ill-conceived estate plans force close relatives into business relationships that they never would enter into by choice. Stranding relatives in these unnatural business relationships is often destructive for both the business and the family.
In my more than 30 years of experience in M&A transactions, I’ve heard the refrain from business owners time and time again: “Why would I need help? I know everything I need to know about selling my business.”
It’s true that owners know their businesses better than anyone else. Typically they have built the company from the ground up and are often banking on the success of its sale to fund their retirement, their family’s future or other business opportunities. Yet far too many owners underestimate the complexity of the sale process.
We have looked at succession in many ways and in many different forms. Lately, family business owners have been approaching our business forum and inquiring as to how to start working “on” their business as opposed to “in” their business. These family business leaders no longer wish to deal with the day-to-day operations and are looking to extract themselves from the business.