To you, twenty-five or thirty years ago, retirement was for the elderly and feeble – clearly not gonna happen to you, huh? You worked decades to build your empire (or corner store, photography studio, e-commerce site, or two-person overhead door repair company). You toughed it out through the annual flu seasons; you missed the kids’ violin solos and school plays, just to stay on top of your game as a self-employed business owner. Hopefully, you made a nice profit to squirrel away for your olden, but golden days.
Your family grew, your hair grayed, and now the grandkiddies are visiting every weekend. And you know what…you like it that way. Whether you are actually elderly and feeble, doesn’t matter, but one thing haunts you. You know it; that lingering question your grown children have been avoiding – Which one of you will take over the family business? If you’re like me, you opened your store, company or office, to actually improve your family’s quality of life. For God’s sake, that company put food on your table and kept the lights on. The kids know that, but did you pick up on the hints of whether or not that actually wanted to carry the torch when you finished your leg of the race?
I don’t know many people with a “family business” anymore. Most of my friends own “boutique-style” glam shops, real estate brokerages, and consulting firms. I don’t hear folks talking about passing down those types of businesses. It could be that I’m just too busy minding my own business that I don’t catch more than a glimpse of theirs or maybe it’s that people are building empires without a succession plan in mind. Someone please tell me.
When I registered From Launch To Ascent , my family was in the forefront and center of that plan. I asked my youngest daughter to be the Social Media Director. My mother and second-youngest daughter created logo designs. My oldest daughters were my make-up artist and support squad. My husband was the exclusive photographer for my marketing and advertisements. Sure, there was a silent hope in me that one of the kids (I have a son also) would inquire about partnering with me; learning the ropes of self-employment and job creation. For years before I started my small business promotion company, I was, for a time, almost spellbound by the Duck Dynasty television series. In particular, how the father started a small company that made enough to feed a home full of hungry sons, but then one of the sons, after college graduation, catapulted that somewhat successful business into a multi-million dollar brand that became a household name. As a parent and founder of company I’ve dreamed of and sweated for, I imagine that the father did not have his company’s vision of success going in that exact trajectory and likely felt some kind of way that it was his son who had the magic touch.
There’s a rule in our home – go to college; learn a trade/skill; or open a business. Choice is important. Yes; I would fall out flat on the floor with glee if one of my own wanted to carry on Ascent Small Business Promotion, LLC. However, I’m cognizant that in their carrying on, I’d in some way resign myself to witnessing my company’s trajectory going in a path I hadn’t planned for. I mean, isn’t that the objective – to create a business plan that foresees detours and roadblocks and plan for them now; I did that and hopefully the right way.
To be honest, my children and I wouldn’t see the detours and roadblocks in the same way. Would you and yours? I’d have to trust that their vision for the business is more surer than mine ever was. If the torch is passed one day, my legacy is no longer in my hands. And, I must say, that I wouldn’t want it any other way. This generation of young entrepreneurs are tech geniuses – equipped with every smart device the world has ever known or desired. They are family-oriented, even if some of us don’t readily see it that way; they are choosing to work less hours in order to enjoy a work-life balance that many of us graying adults would only dare to dream of. Ambition is an understatement; these whizzes can take an idea; group-think it; automate it; pitch it to a local organization; patent it; and sell it for a cool million – all in a day’s time, with time to grab a blonde espresso from Starbucks.
The point of it all – if you have a family business that you’re considering passing down, be up front with your children and grandchildren about your intentions; prepare and equip them to know and honor your vision for the business. However, be prepared to expect a little shaking up, or at the very least, stirring up – you want to awaken and excite their creativity. After all, your legacy is riding on their ability to add scalability to the brand you created. I think you’re in good hands.
Visit me at http://www.fromlaunchtoascent.com
I live in suburban Detroit, MI and operate Ascent Small Business Promotion, LLC. In 2015, I started my first blog. In 2016, I created #iGoaltend Magazine. This blog, Pep Talk with The Small Business Cheerleader, is my give back to the community. I’m a Grant Writer, Young Entrepreneur mentor, and Board Member (just ask me). I’m an Alumni Recruiter for Coppin State University (HBCU #CoppinProud). A wonderful husband, Ken; 5 children (4 are grown – we’re in the homestretch); 2 grand princesses; a big dog and a gigantic goldfish, complete me.
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