Talking helps! Also for business succession

Talking helps! Also for business succession!

Dinner was served: The company succession was settled.

Chapter 1

The only scion of the family, Alexander, 24, was to succeed his father (Dieter, 65), founder and sole managing partner of the company, and lead the successful company into an even better future.

So far, so clear. At least for the senior. For it had taken him some time and energy to get used to the idea of one day leaving the fate of his company in the hands of others.

And then there was the question of the right successor. It was obvious that it would be his son. After all, he was already in his sixth semester of business studies (on the advice of his parents) and was about to complete his bachelor's degree. He had known the company from an early age and had, to a certain extent, grown up in the company. Friends had confirmed his son's suitability for this task to Dieter. So it was a clear matter to inform Alexander accordingly on the occasion of one of his next visits to his parents. The decision had been made and his father took this as an opportunity to give him this extremely pleasing news over a sip of champagne.

First the son's, then his father's, facial features slipped. Instead of bursting into jubilation at this great sign of confidence, Alexander abruptly set down the glass and soberly put it back on the table.

Disappointed by his son's, shall we say, very reserved reaction, his father did the same. Pause. Silence.

What had happened?

Stupidly, Dieter had never shared his thoughts and reflections on business succession with his son before. Conversely, Alexander had failed to give his parents a hint that he was pursuing his studies without joy and inner motivation. He had discovered his artistic vein during his studies and perfected his skills on the keyboard, which he liked to show off in the pub around the corner.

He wanted to graduate with a bachelor's degree, but he certainly didn't want to continue his father's business.

Learning 1: Talking helps!

Chapter 2

Bernd (36 years old, only son) had joined his parents' company at the age of 22 after his apprenticeship as an industrial clerk. Father Peter (75 years old) had welcomed this step. At his request, Bernd went through all the departments in the house to get as broad an overview as possible of all the activities.

Instead of diligence and inquisitiveness, Bernd gained respect through his status as the boss's son. He enjoyed parking his Porsche right next to the entrance in the GF car park. He liked to arrive a little late for meetings, but made a point of finishing work on time. After all, there were his hobbies (which we will spare ourselves the task of listing). He also liked to report on new purchases for his condominium, which his parents had given him. It almost goes without saying that he received a higher salary than his colleagues.

Within the house, however, his career came to a standstill, to his astonishment. He was no longer able to advance beyond a clerical position. He rebelled, as he was born to take over the company. The disputes with his father about the right management of the company increased and escalated more and more. He, Bernd, will show his father once he is in charge!

The latter had made his company the market leader in its market niche in 40 years with a lot of diligence, great care and appreciation for his team. He regularly gave his employees the benefit of the doubt and mistakes were allowed (reluctantly twice). The staff appreciated their degrees of freedom, contributed to the company and stood behind the senior 'like a 1'.

The son should not have as hard a time as his father as an entrepreneur

That's why there have been one or two privileges. As an attentive company leader, however, it was not lost on Peter that Bernd met with certain reservations among the staff, in some places with deep rejection.

He'll be fine. He's not ready yet. He is still growing into the task. Father and son did not discuss his son's entrepreneurial aptitude.

Peter died suddenly and unexpectedly. Bernd took over the helm. That was five years ago. The company has lost its best people. Management is based on pressure and control, because price pressure is increasing and costs have to come down. And the banks have recently started to receive monthly reports on the progress of the business, as they are now available with substantial bridging loans.

Learning 2: Talking helps!

Conclusion for a successful business succession

Do not be afraid to address supposedly clear or even emotionally difficult issues. You are welcome to make use of professional support. This is for the good of all involved and thus also for the good of your company. Clarity is an essential ingredient for entrepreneurial success!

Image: © PhotoAlto/Milena Boniek/Getty Images

TIPS for further reading:

Enterprise value-oriented company valuation pays off when selling a company

How can you recognise reputable business sale advisors?

Determine company value free of charge and online