Genera­tio­nal change in the compa­ny: Securing values and conti­nuing the company’s history

The genera­tio­nal change in family businesses is a decisi­ve moment that goes far beyond the mere manage­ment of the compa­ny. It is a transi­ti­on that should be careful­ly planned and careful­ly execu­ted in order to preser­ve the values and tradi­ti­ons of the compa­ny and at the same time open up new perspectives.

KERN M&A Erfolgsgarantie

Compa­ny succes­si­on within the family needs soluti­ons that also take into account emotio­nal needs

We support families who want to trans­fer their compa­ny values to a new genera­ti­on safely and without conflict with the holistic KERN family process. With consul­ting, modera­ti­on, coaching and media­ti­on, we enable a secure future and the conti­nua­tion of the compa­ny and family history.

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How to make your genera­ti­on change a success. The expert guide for
Family business.

Concen­tra­ted exper­ti­se and compact infor­ma­ti­on. 25 KERN experts have summa­ri­sed the most important infor­ma­ti­on for your successful compa­ny sale on 150 pages.

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It helps enorm­ously to have a neutral perso­na­li­ty as a contact person for all members of the family. 

Our inter­nal family succes­si­on and the coaching of my sons was handled very sensi­tively and with commit­ment by Mr Koerber. Many insights and activi­ties would have been left out in our family without the KERN support of our genera­tio­nal change. It helps enorm­ously to get an outside perspec­ti­ve and to have a neutral perso­na­li­ty available as a contact person for all members of the family.

K.S., entre­pre­neur from Essen  , Person­nel service provider 

Parents and child­ren from family businesses have a very concre­te benefit from this 

Our clients are medium-sized compa­nies and the challenges of genera­tio­nal change, compa­ny sales or emergen­cy provi­si­ons are ‘peren­ni­al issues’ for us. We have been working with Mr Koerber and KERN for years and value his practi­cal knowledge and the orien­ted training and coaching. Parents and child­ren from family businesses benefit from this in a very tangi­ble way.

W.S., further educa­ti­on insti­tu­te from Rheda-Wiedenbrück  , Head of a nation­wi­de acade­my for trading companies 

For us as a family business, the support provi­ded by Mr Koerber was a great benefit 

For us as a family business, combi­ned with the many challenges of the future genera­ti­on change, the support of Mr Koerber was a great benefit. Especi­al­ly through media­ti­on, we can now under­stand each other better and deal with conflicts differ­ent­ly. We recom­mend working with the experts from K.E.R.N. when problems arise in the succes­si­on process!

J.M., entre­pre­neur from Osnabrück  , Manufac­tu­ring, whole­sa­le and retail trade 

I have enjoy­ed working with KERN very much 

I have very much enjoy­ed working with KERN and, as a repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of the buyer side, am always pleased when sellers ? especi­al­ly family businesses ? recei­ve holistic advice and are speci­fi­cal­ly prepared for a sale.

F.H., respon­si­ble M&A manager in NRW  , Inter­na­tio­nal services group 

… Very satis­fied and would recom­mend Kern at any time and without reservation. 

What I parti­cu­lar­ly liked about KERN and Mr Ingo Claus was the very profes­sio­nal and trusting way in which he dealt with me as a compa­ny seller and the interes­ted parties. Mr Claus always acted in a soluti­on-orien­ted manner and was in constant dialo­gue between me as the seller and the poten­ti­al buyers. Even though the sale was not comple­ted in the end, which was due to exter­nal circum­s­tances, I was very satis­fied with the work done by KERN and Mr Claus and would recom­mend KERN and him at any time and without reservation.

M.B., entre­pre­neur from Lower Saxony  , Owner of a proper­ty develo­p­ment company 

After a lengthy selec­tion process we decided on KERN 

By its very nature, there are not multi­ple oppor­tu­ni­ties when selling a business. That is why choosing the right manage­ment consul­tant is so important. After a lengthy selec­tion process, we decided on KERN and Holger Haber­mann. With great perso­nal commit­ment, Mr. Haber­mann has successful­ly maste­red all tasks, both in terms of content and manage­ment. I would parti­cu­lar­ly like to empha­sise the wide-ranging exper­ti­se, the metho­di­cal approach, the objec­ti­ve, calm manner and the straight­for­ward­ness in the discussion.

H.K., entre­pre­neur from Bavaria  , Owner of an infor­ma­ti­on techno­lo­gy company 

… We have achie­ved our goal and can defini­te­ly recom­mend working with KERN

The KERN team was recom­men­ded to me as part of our compa­ny sale and, in retro­s­pect, we are very glad to have recei­ved this tip. The negotia­ti­on process for the sale was complex, lengthy and someti­mes threa­ten­ed by emotio­nal misun­derstan­dings in the outco­me. However, thanks to the great experi­ence and skill of our KERN consul­tant, we achie­ved our goal and can defini­te­ly recom­mend working with KERN.

J.F. , Entre­pre­neur in the Osnabrück area  , Trade and techni­cal services 

Especi­al­ly the serious­ness and profes­sio­na­lism gave me a secure feeling at all times 

My pre-selec­tion decis­i­on to 100% proved to be the right one. KERN did a really good job from the prepa­ra­ti­on of my compa­ny in an exposé, to the search for buyers, to the facili­ta­ti­on of negotia­ti­ons and the comple­te imple­men­ta­ti­on of my succes­si­on. In parti­cu­lar, the serious­ness and profes­sio­na­lism gave me a secure feeling at all times. Our goal was successful­ly achie­ved in a good 8 months. I am happy to recom­mend KERN to others.

G.O.K., entre­pre­neur from Hamburg  , Service provi­der with own branch locations 

Without the view from outside, we would proba­b­ly never have reached our goal so quick­ly and safely 

In the context of my compa­ny succes­si­on, the merger with a compe­ti­tor compa­ny was the ideal soluti­on. The KERN team, and especi­al­ly Mr. Koerber, accom­pa­nied us sensi­tively as a modera­tor and process facili­ta­tor and combi­ned the interests of both negotia­ting partners well. Without the view from outside and the negotia­ting experi­ence, we would proba­b­ly never have reached our goal so quick­ly and safely!

J.K. Entre­pre­neur from Berlin  , Trade and services 

KERN has clear­ly opened a path for my son 

K.V., entre­pre­neur from Frankfurt  Traders and service provi­ders in the IT segment 

KERN’s coaching has clear­ly opened up a path for my son, with which we can now dedica­te oursel­ves together to the project of genera­tio­nal change, in the sense of conti­nuing the family business. We as parents simply cannot convey some things in the same way and help to reali­se how a profes­sio­nal coach can.

Compa­ny sale profes­sio­nal­ly accom­pa­nied and imple­men­ted from start to finish 

H-J. N., entre­pre­neur from Neuss  Germany’s largest dealer of a premi­um brand of copiers and DMSs 

KERN profes­sio­nal­ly accom­pa­nied and imple­men­ted my compa­ny sale from start to finish. Finding a buyer was surpri­sin­gly quick and the subse­quent succes­si­on process was compe­tent­ly accom­pa­nied and modera­ted at all times.

Profes­sio­nal and relia­ble until successful completion 


Especi­al­ly in the diffi­cult phases, my advisor closed the gaps and paved the way for a further negotia­ti­on.
Every­thing was profes­sio­nal and relia­ble, meetings outside normal business hours were possi­ble at any time.
Profes­sio­nal­ly, I feel compre­hen­si­ve and in good hands, the successful conclu­si­on is an expres­si­on of KERN competence!

The holistic KERN family process for genera­tio­nal change. Start now into a new life of freedom after your entrepreneurship.


Clari­fi­ca­ti­on of the status

Clari­fi­ca­ti­on of the intra-family status as well as concerns and goals in relati­on to the genera­tio­nal change.

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Indivi­du­al and group talks

Indivi­du­al and group discus­sions with all members of the family system to identi­fy indivi­du­al interests.

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Family confe­rence

Develo­p­ment of soluti­on-orien­ted measu­res. Integra­ti­on of econo­mic, fiscal, legal and emotio­nal aspects.

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Initia­ti­on of a struc­tu­red media­ti­on process to resol­ve conflicts under the “win-win” principle.

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Consul­ting and coaching

Imple­men­ta­ti­on of measu­res and support as needed through counsel­ling or coaching. Your needs decide.

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Finan­cing partner

Optio­nal­ly, we support the finan­cing of a genera­tio­nal change, the time and infor­ma­ti­on requi­re­ments of which are often underestimated.

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Known from numerous publications

Success factors for the genera­ti­on change

Family businesses are a special kind of business, as they are often associa­ted with high level of commit­ment and the diver­se work of genera be built up. There­fo­re, they can be a source of pride and joy within a family. And these lifeworks always have a high emotio­nal share in the owner­ship struc­tu­re. After all, it is not always just happy days in entre­pre­neur­ship, but also pain, disap­point­ments and defeats associa­ted with it, and all this is what makes SMEs (small and medium-sized entre­pre­neurs up to 250 MA) so unique.

To ensure a smooth transi­ti­on and maximi­se the chances of success for the future of the business, there are Four essen­ti­al success factorswhich must be taken into account.

Erfolgsfaktoren für Generationswechsel im Unternehmen

1) Clari­fy basic questions

An essen­ti­al step in planning the succes­si­on of a business is to clari­fy all the issues that arise in relati­on to the business and the family. This also includes Finan­cial and legal impli­ca­ti­ons of a transi­ti­on under­stand and address possi­ble conflicts of interest. This ensures that all parties invol­ved can under­stand the parame­ters of the succes­si­on plan and helps to avoid misun­derstan­dings in the future. Never link your relati­onships in the family system with condi­ti­ons in the compa­ny system.

2) Create a succes­si­on plan

Once the basic questi­ons have been clari­fied, the next step is to draw up a detail­ed succes­si­on plan. This plan should include the roles and respon­si­bi­li­ties of the indivi­du­al family members, a Timeta­ble for the transi­ti­on and a clear defini­ti­on of the long-term goals and guide­lines are included. This ensures that all stake­hol­ders are on the same page and that everyo­ne under­stands their role in the succes­si­on process. At the same time, suffi­ci­ent space should be designed for new ideas from the next generation.

3) Define selec­tion crite­ria for poten­ti­al successors

To ensure a successful transi­ti­on, it is important to estab­lish clear selec­tion crite­ria for poten­ti­al business succes­sors. These crite­ria should be based on the speci­fic needs of the compa­ny and focus on charac­te­ristics such as Experi­ence, training and leader­ship skills focus. This ensures that the best possi­ble succes­sors are selec­ted to lead the compa­ny. It is not the family status that decides on the succes­si­on, but the quali­fi­ca­ti­on of the manage­ment heads that must be decisive.

4) Estab­lish clear rules for the hando­ver phase

The hando­ver phase of the succes­si­on plan is a crucial part of the process. There­fo­re, it is important to estab­lish clear rules and expec­ta­ti­ons for both the current owners and the business succes­sors. For this purpo­se Guide­lines for commu­ni­ca­ti­on and decis­i­on-making as well as for finan­cial obliga­ti­ons and deadlines.

Do you have confi­den­ti­al questions?

Portrait von KERN Gründer und Spezialist Nils Koerber lächelnd

Book your desired date direct­ly online!

I look forward to getting to know you.

Nils Koerber

Frequent­ly asked questi­ons about the genera­ti­on change

When is the right time for a genera­tio­nal change in family businesses?

There is no clear recom­men­da­ti­on for this. After all, for a genera­tio­nal change in family businesses, there must be the right moment on both sides be available ? for trans­fer­ors and for transferees.

What we can recom­mend from our experi­ence, however, is that when the next genera­ti­on is ready, the training steps are also comple­ted. Serious and concre­te genera­tio­nal change in the family business should be agreed.

Within the frame­work of a transi­ti­on phase, both sides, the trans­fer­or and the trans­fe­ree, can then imple­ment the business succes­si­on project.

How do I basical­ly clari­fy the possi­ble genera­tio­nal change for our family business?

First of all, we recom­mend clari­fy­ing the inner attitu­de to this questi­on. And for this, we as experts belie­ve, the Freedom in this so important life decis­i­on before the obliga­ti­on of having to take over the family business.

Talk to your child­ren or close relati­ves calmly about the options and perspec­ti­ves of taking over a compa­ny through a genera­tio­nal change. This is not a matter for just anyone. This requi­res time and a suita­ble framework.

If neces­sa­ry, have a neutral expert accom­pa­ny you in such a highly emotio­nal discus­sion situa­ti­on. ?
And give your poten­ti­al succes­sor or succes­sor suffi­ci­ent time to consider this offer.

There is a wealth of content that is important for such a clari­fi­ca­ti­on of a genera­tio­nal change in family businesses.

Take advan­ta­ge of our offer of a free webinar on the special topic: Mista­kes during the genera­ti­on change in family businesses 

Book your place now!

What skills should my succes­sor bring with him/her?

This questi­on is about the future of the compa­ny. Not about a subjec­ti­ve simila­ri­ty of possi­ble simila­ri­ties between the trans­fe­ree and the transferor.

Ideal­ly, exami­ne together for the genera­ti­on change in your compa­ny which Leader­ship quali­ties and focus for the future of the compa­ny after the compa­ny succession.

Or which quali­ties and positi­ons might have to be filled differ­ent­ly so that the Natural strengths and compe­ten­ces of your succes­sor can develop their effect well.

Together with scien­tists and recog­nis­ed poten­ti­al analy­ses, KERN has develo­ped a Indivi­du­al entre­pre­neur check develo­ped. In this way, people who want to take on a leader­ship succes­si­on in a compa­ny can check their poten­ti­al online and uncover resour­ces or develop charac­te­ristics in a targe­ted manner.

At My Entre­pre­neur Check you can get started straight away.

How can I, as the trans­fer­or, define or disco­ver my new role after a successful genera­tio­nal change in the family business?

This important questi­on has for proba­b­ly the highest priori­ty for any trans­fer­or. A new chapter of life is begin­ning and this needs to be disco­ver­ed and prepared for.

We cannot clari­fy this for you optimal­ly in the brevi­ty of a few sentences.

But what we can do for you with our experi­ence in this field is to recom­mend a very special seminar:

Change of staff Compa­ny sale

In this seminar you will work concre­te­ly on this question.

Or you can read the relevant book and Amazon bestsel­ler by KERN founder Nils Koerber about: The art of letting go

Also available as an audio book, of course.

What are the effects of a change of owner­ship in the genera­ti­on change of a family business on partners (custo­mers, suppli­ers, banks, etc.) and in the public?

Proba­b­ly predo­mi­nant­ly a positi­ve effect. Your custo­mers, your suppli­ers or simply the public in the micro­c­osm of your business environ­ment, tends to take the safeguar­ding of a compa­ny and its jobs serious­ly. majori­ty as a good develo­p­ment and a good messa­ge on.

Remain so Grown struc­tures, offers and ties preser­ved and can conti­nue to be used in the future.

Our expert tip: Use the genera­tio­nal change in your family business as a good public messa­ge and connect the regio­nal media at all levels with this event.

How could the genera­tio­nal change and the trans­fer of the compa­ny be commu­ni­ca­ted intern­al­ly as well as externally?

All employees in the compa­ny should be the first to know when there is clari­ty in the family about the planned genera­tio­nal change. This creates Relia­bi­li­ty and trans­pa­ren­cy for the periods of the hando­ver phase.

And as soon as clear respon­si­bi­li­ties also change sides between the trans­fer­or and the trans­fe­ree in the genera­ti­on change, it is also a good time for the Commu­ni­ca­ti­on outside the compa­ny.

How does a company’s value come about and is it at all important in a genera­ti­on change?

There are current­ly two relevant valua­ti­on methods for family businesses:

The capita­li­sed earnings value method (IDWS1) and the AWH process (parti­cu­lar­ly suita­ble for craft businesses).

With these recog­nis­ed methods, the value of a compa­ny can be calcu­la­ted and at the same time also serves as a basis for possi­ble assess­ments by the tax authorities.

Expan­ded, such a valua­ti­on also makes sense becau­se it brings trans­pa­ren­cy to the various values in a family’s assets within a family and in the case of several heirs to a trans­fer. This helps to avoid possi­ble conflicts.

We at KERN make such valua­tions for family businesses on an almost daily basis. For a quick value assess­ment and first, The multi­pli­er method is also helpful for a rough estima­te.. In this proce­du­re, market-relevant values from other compa­ny sales are used and multi­pli­ed by the results of a company.

With our Enter­pri­se Value Calcu­la­tor you can carry out an initi­al value assess­ment online free of charge within 5 minutes. Use our compa­ny value calcu­la­tor to your advantage.

What needs to be taken into account with regard to tax and legal aspects when there is a genera­tio­nal change in a family business?

The comple­xi­ty of legal forms of a compa­ny, the tax constel­la­ti­ons of compa­ny and persons makes an answer impos­si­ble at this point.

Expert advice is always neces­sa­ry here. Especi­al­ly with regard to inheri­tance tax and legal peculia­ri­ties, which should not be underestimated.

Since changes in the politi­cal frame­work of the legis­la­ti­on can occur on an ongoing basis, you should seek out an experi­en­ced advisor for this and, Tailo­red to your compa­ny and family situa­ti­on, get advice.

What effects does a genera­tio­nal change in business succes­si­on have on a company’s finan­cing structure?

That depends entire­ly on the chosen construct of a compa­ny trans­fer. Will it be given away, inheri­ted or sold?

Depen­ding on the type of trans­fer, the trans­fer­or can and will ensure that he is no longer perso­nal­ly liable. The trans­fe­rees of a compa­ny then frequent­ly also take over the Comple­te liabi­li­ty in all finan­cing matters of the company.

However, this varies great­ly from case to case and should be weighed up with all the advan­ta­ges and disad­van­ta­ges under the advice of experts in the circle of owners and succes­sors. And this then concerns not only factu­al frame­work condi­ti­ons, such as liabi­li­ty, but also the emotio­nal aspects in the constel­la­ti­on of entre­pre­neur and succes­sor in business succession.

How do I find reputa­ble advisors to accom­pa­ny the hando­ver process in the genera­tio­nal change of a family business?

Look for proven referen­ces and exten­si­ve experi­ence. Having accom­pa­nied a genera­ti­on change once does not make a consul­tant an expert.

When there is a genera­tio­nal change in the family business, three systems are touch­ed: The families, the compa­ny itself and expands the owner­ship structure.

And this comple­xi­ty of systems, legal and fiscal frame­works as well as emotio­nal proces­ses, should be a and experi­en­ced advisors can provi­de as know-how.

So ask speci­fi­cal­ly for referen­ces from other families.

We at KERN disclo­se a wealth of our referen­ces in concre­te terms. With well over 100 indivi­du­al state­ments, you can get a good pictu­re for yours­elf: Custo­mer testimonials

Which books are recom­men­ded for a business hando­ver in the context of a genera­ti­on change?

As we are convin­ced of our exper­ti­se, we are happy to recom­mend the books from our own partner circle at: KERN books on business succes­si­on, process knowledge and entrepreneurship

What are the most common problems with a genera­tio­nal change?

Since three diffe­rent systems are invol­ved, the Comple­xi­ty of family, compa­ny and owner­ship struc­tu­re not to be undere­sti­ma­ted.

When it comes to genera­tio­nal change in family businesses, one of the most relevant stumb­ling blocks is the inter­nal ambigui­ty of the actors invol­ved on the trans­fer­or and trans­fe­ree sides.

They are the emotio­nal backgrounds and very diffe­rent function­al logics of the affec­ted systems that cause problems.

And when conflicts arise, which is actual­ly also quite normal, we recom­mend proce­du­res such as media­ti­on. You can find details here: Media­ti­on Roadmap