We've spoken with hundreds of young family members, asking their views about their family businesses. This inquiry can be part of our consultation or presentation. Here are the most typical ten responses from
the next generation:
- We truly value the opportunity which the business affords the family. We enjoy the financial edge which it provides in life.
- We dislike being taken for granted, playing second fiddle to the business.
- We badly want more quality time, more listening, more overt affection, less criticism. We would even trade down our lifestyle (some) for these.
- We worry that our parents work too hard; part of our fear is that stress from the business may lead to disharmony in the family, even to divorce.
- We crave to know more about how and why the business began; our lack of knowledge is, at times, frustrating.
- We expect commitments to be honored. We particularly need to know what "someday it will all be yours" means.
- We appreciate parents' honesty about their own "failures" and shortcomings. We want confirmation that we aren't the only ones who ever make mistakes.
- We are unclear what to expect, or where we would stand, if we did join the business.
- In our teens, especially, we resented being distinguished from our peers by family name and image. We wanted less publicity, more personal identity.
- We want, and have wanted as long as we can recall, to give advice as well as to receive it.
From these results, we advise the senior generation to:
- Share your vision and concrete knowledge of the business.
- Make and implement a management succession plan.
- Establish financial, ownership transfer, and estate plans.
- Discuss your intentions with the next generation.
- Express your love by giving-unconditionally-of yourself.