I recently had the privilege of facilitating a conference for family business owners from the United States and Canada. Most of the attendees desired to transition the leadership and ownership of their business to next generation family members. Yet most of them acknowledged that they are “stuck” – even paralyzed – in developing and implementing that transition plan.
But something transformative occurred in those 2 ½ days. As each of these men and women shared their transition challenges, and as I and the other attendees offered our experiences in walking through those challenges, a palpable sense of hope emerged in the group.
As we shared our stories, each person understood in new ways that we each live in our own (messy) backstage, but only see the front stage of everyone else’s business. Family business transition is messy for most everyone. We are not alone in facing challenges in our business.
Secondly, attendees came to realize that somebody has walked the transition path before and knows the questions that need to be asked, the crucial conversations that need to occur, and the clarity that needs to be developed and communicated to get from where they are to where they want to be. Somebody knows.
As this group learned, there is hope even in the midst of the most challenging of family business transitions when we realize that we do not need to walk the transition journey on our own (and it IS a journey, not an event) and commit to taking one step toward finding that someone to help us navigate this most important process. Somebody knows.