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Do you want your children to take over your business in the future? What if they don’t want to? It’s time to stop forcing it on the kids.
We see the storyline a lot in TV shows. Parents have created a business, and then they have dreams of passing that onto their children. There’s nothing wrong with the dream in and of itself, but the problem comes when passing on the work is forced.
What’s to say that the children even want to take over? Let’s look at a restaurant, for example. Your dream was to run your own restaurant and serve the best Italian in town. You’ve achieved it, and you want to pass that dream onto the kids. However, the kids want to go into nursing or they want to start up a business in tech. Now you spend all your time trying to force them to take over something that they don’t want instead of passing it onto someone who does want it.
I have full respect for a photographer that I knew. When he looked to retire, he offered his business to his daughter. She didn’t want to relocate, even though she was also a photographer. Rather than force her to move, he accepted that and simply closed up shop instead of selling his hard work onto someone who may not respect it as well as he did. This is the right way to do things.
I get why people want to pass on their business to their kids. It’s a dream to have this family-run thing. It’s a dream to leave them something of yours behind and to know that you made a mark in the community. However, by forcing it onto them, you’re going to run into problems.
They are their own people
What would it have felt like if your parents forced their work onto you? Let’s say they ran a mining business and they wanted you to take over, but you wanted to open this restaurant business. Your parents said no and that you would never make it, and they kept pushing you and pushing you until you finally gave in.
Would you enjoy that work? Would you feel like you have achieved something? Of course not. You have been forced into following someone else’s dream for you.
Your children will be the same. They are their own people, with their own dreams. If they want to take over what you’ve done, that’s fine. If they don’t, that should also be fine. You may think it’s a mistake, but you once followed your passions. Why can’t they?
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They don’t know how to run your business
You can spend all the time you want teaching your children the ins and outs of what you do to keep everything running, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to pay attention. Nor does it mean they even care enough to keep it all running when you pass it all over.
Then there’s the risk that you die before you can fully train them. Now they’re stuck with something they have no interest in and no knowledge how to do it all. They end up caught like a deer in headlights and have no idea where to start. Of course, this is a little different. You can pass them on the business and they can hire someone to do it all.
The problem with the former where you’re trying to get them to take an active part is that they end up not paying all that much attention. They’re just not interested in it, and they feel like they have to give up on their dreams just to make you happy.
If it was me as a child, I would have likely purposely caused trouble just to make sure I could follow my dreams.
There is someone else out there who wants it
Maybe you have another child who would prefer to take over the business. Instead of passing it onto the eldest, you could pass it onto the youngest. Or maybe there’s a niece or nephew who is interested. Then there’s the possibility of someone who is like a child to you or even a grandchild who is interested. There may even be a local kid who has an interest, internships with you, and is the one to pass the work onto. You could still pass on shares to children, but you give the actual work to the person who wants it.
Then there may not be anyone to pass it all on to. You don’t need to pass on your business to anyone. There’s no need to leave a long legacy. Just look at all those long legacies that are closing down after decades of running. The needs of people change.
They will come to resent you and your business
One of the biggest reasons now to force them is resentment. Your children won’t just come to resent the work they’re doing. They will come to resent you. Why didn’t you offer them the support for their passions the way you got support for yours? Even if you didn’t get support, you know what that could have done for you and your dreams. Why can’t you offer them the support they need?
They start to see it as you caring more about the work and your legacy than anything else. Do you really want that as your children grow up?
It’s one thing to encourage when they’re young to see if they’re interested. It’s another thing to make it clear this is the only future you see for them.
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