Generational change in family businesses -
Burden or pleasure? Generational change in family businesses

Generational change in family businesses

The 5 biggest mistakes in generational change in family businesses.

In the meantime, more than 50% (!) of German business leaders are heading towards retirement at a fast pace and therefore have to solve perhaps the biggest challenge in their lives: Who will take over my life's work?

What makes generational change so complex and why do so many company owners fail?

Interestingly, one of the biggest stumbling blocks lies with the transferor himself. For decades, a business is the framework and content that determines much of an entrepreneur's life. It is comparable to a warming campfire around which I, as the owner, sit and am not only 'warmed' financially through my income, but also receive completely different, emotional and vital 'nourishment' on the side. My company also gives me an important goal in life. Why am I here and what do I want to achieve? For enthusiastic entrepreneurs, the company can literally be the drive, the motor of life. Through their work, they receive recognition, respect, appreciation and a colourful variety of social relationships at all levels. Values, learning, development, vitality, joy, confirmation?and?and.

And then comes the time, and now for more than half of all family businesses, when it is time to step back from this warming, safe source. How unpleasant? How lacking in perspective!

Why should I let go of everything that was and is so important in my life in the generational change?

After all, the wish of many SMEs is to transfer the business to the next generation. Children should continue what was so closely connected with the family and their own lives as entrepreneurs. After all, is a Generational change in family businesses also the successful expression of one's own reproduction in the figurative sense. As the transferor, I leave behind not only a material framework, jobs and other values, but also the biological and very personal succession in genetic form through my children as the transferees. How beautiful this could be. At the same time, more and more company leaders feel that this ideal can only be realistically realised in about 40% of family businesses.

Children may want to leave their own footprints in life. They are less and less likely to follow in their parents' entrepreneurial footsteps. Another hurdle for a successful generational change in family businesses is the permanent role change between the systems of the family and the company.

Do I think, speak, listen and act as an entrepreneur or as a father or mother?

This is crucial and is often underestimated in its great diversity and even more rarely consciously reflected by those affected. Almost all Conflicts in family businesses are caused by the lack of clarity of roles in daily cooperation. It does not matter whether it is about the transferor or the transferee. If the roles as members of a family and the roles as shareholders or owners of a company are not consciously separated from each other, quarrels and arguments are almost guaranteed.

What are the 5 biggest mistakes in a generational change in family businesses?

  • The possible takeover of the company is not voluntary, but an obligation.
  • Responsibilities and competences in the handover of the company remain unclear. Who does what and when?
  • There is no timetable for the transferor and transferee.
  • The generational change remains unclear for many years and the transferor(s) cannot break away and hold on.
  • The ?roles? as a member of the family and as a person in charge of a company are more often confused and remain unreflective.

The merciless reality of demography makes it clear that there will be a large gap in the next generation of entrepreneurs. The low birth rates of future generations mean that successors within families are already dwindling in numbers. It is therefore all the more important that the possible opportunities of a generational change in every family business are consciously and attentively seized at an early stage.

Gift for readers: Free online seminar on generational change!

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Tips for further reading:

Interview: Preparing the succession within the family well

5 important trends in business succession in 2019

Lack of business successors threatens family businesses

Image: Fololia.de


What makes the generational change difficult?

Almost all Conflicts in family businesses are caused by the lack of clarity of roles in daily cooperation. If the roles as members of a family and the roles as shareholders or owners of a company are not consciously separated from each other, quarrels and arguments are almost guaranteed.

What are the biggest mistakes in generational change?

1. the possible takeover of the company is not voluntary, but an obligation.
2. responsibilities and competences in the handover of the company remain unclear.
3. a timetable is missing.
4. the generational change remains unclear for many years and the transferors cannot detach themselves and hold on.
5. the 'roles' as a family member and as a person in charge of a company are more often confused and remain unreflective.