Family Business Summer 2017

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The Keystone for Successful Baby Boomer Succession

By Stanley H. Davis and Kelley R. Small


f you are or have been the parent of a teenage child, you may have read the book “I Hate You, But Will You Please Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall?” by Anthony E. Wolfe. You probably got a chuckle out of the title, but after reading it, found it totally relatable. Raising children is always a push-pull relationship; however, in the final analysis, we love our children and will do almost anything for them – including turn over the family business. Thousands of businesses are owned by the Baby Boomer generation and they are finding themselves asking one of the largest questions of their careers: “Who is going to take over the family business?” Your business is like your child. In many cases, you have given birth to it, you have fed it, nurtured it, been an-



gry at it, loved it and despised it. In the end, it is like a piece of you and you cannot imagine leaving it permanently. Perhaps you would like to take a long vacation from it, keep your hand in it, but never leave it completely. After all, it is part of the family. Whether you have inherited or started your own business, you have likely heard the question, “What is your exit plan?” It is one we ask our clients on a regular basis. It is not an easy question to an-

swer and can be especially vexing for owners of family-held businesses, where few seem to have a solid exit strategy in place. Typically, business owners fall into one of these categories: a. I feel my plan is solid and I can walk away today with a strategy in place. b. My son or daughter will take over after s/he graduates from college. c. Once I hire the right people, I will be able to take more time off and it will run itself. d. I need to bring in someone to run the business until my son or daughter is ready to run it. Warren Buffet is famous for the expression, “the lucky sperm club,” when it comes to the inheritance of a family business. But are inheriting children reContinued on page 9 5