Yesterday I got on a soapbox and wrote about CEOs, high level managers, and business owners who go on cruise control or autopilot as they approach retirement age. I said leaders with this attitude have a demoralizing and debilitating effect on employees who are actually trying to make a difference for their companies.
Today I’ll look at another phenomena, and that is the massive generational transfer of family businesses taking place across America as Baby Boomers nearing or entering retirement look to pass ownership and leadership to their adult children.
I have to confess I hadn’t thought much about this until I attended a conference where the Chief Lending Officer of a large bank mentioned it. It opened my eyes to the enormity of this issue.
Not long ago I ran into it personally when the 37 year old son of a soon-to-be retiring business owner asked me to coach him. He told me he thought the business could grow a lot more than his father had built it, but felt like he needed outside support to help him develop the business and leadership skills needed to grow the business.
As I considered the complex compendium of needs within that one business, here’s what I came up with:
- The father wants a secure retirement income from the business, and would also like to launch into some other avenues he hasn’t been able to get to, like overseas ministry projects.
- Like the cruise control CEOs I mentioned yesterday, the father is hesitant to upset the status quo with his son’s ideas on how to grow the company. He doesn’t want to mess up what he worked hard to build.
- The son seeks to preserve a good relationship with his father and is reluctant to push too hard, yet he is frustrated.
- The son has a bigger vision for the business than his father does, and wants to acquire the skills to achieve his vision.
This is not an easy issue, and is enveloped with high emotion. It’s also occurring all over the nation. So how can this father and son, and others like them, be helped?
Obviously they need to have a transition plan that meets the needs of all parties. For the plan to work it needs to look at a multi-year process where changes that will increase the value of the business (and the father’s retirement income) can be introduced at a pace that the father can tolerate, yet still satisfies the son that progress is being made.
Who can offer these services? Obviously consultants and coaches like myself can, but since I’m also from the financial services industry I always think of how banks, credit unions, and retirement planners can get involved in the process.
They have millions of family-owned businesses in their databases. If these types of companies took it upon themselves to help family-owned businesses transition (like some big banks are doing), think of how strongly they could differentiate themselves in their local markets.
This generational transfer of businesses is a huge thing, and those of us in a position to help folks like the father and son mentioned above can provide much needed services that reward those who have built businesses, while also ensuring those businesses continue to grow.
Scott McClymonds is a coach and consultant specializing in helping clients acquire and retain profitable customers. His expertise in leadership, business intelligence, and as an entrepreneur help clients dramatically grow profitability. He is an in-demand thought leader whose articles and presentations are seen throughout the nation. Contact Scott @ 479.263.0774 or [email protected]