Passing down a family business is an emotional process, and key factors need to be in place in order for the transition to succeed, according to a new study published Thursday in Family Process, a peer-reviewed journal from Wiley-Blackwell.
The owner needs to trust other family members’ involvement in the long-term plan for the business, and nurture a healthy outlook and plan for his or her own retirement, Wiley said in a statement announcing the study, “‘Don’t Lock Me Out’: Life-Story Interviews of Family Business Owners Facing Succession.”
Researchers asked 10 active family business owners to recount their life stories in an effort to explore what constrains successful succession. Participants told the story of their business, focusing on pivotal chapters in its evolution.
“Narratives are critical to understanding the ‘letting go’ process because they reveal the owners’ dreams, challenges and how they handle both such that they ultimately can or cannot let go,” Dr. Alexandra Solomon, co-investigator with an eight member team, said in the statement. “As difficult as it may be to invite especially male family business owners to talk about ‘tender stuff,’ family therapists and family business consultants need to be willing to explore how and where the business ‘lives’ within the owner in order to free him up to pass the business along to the next generation.”