How not to hand down your business to the next generation.
I come from a long line of small business owners. In two out of three cases the generation above me was the second generation, and none of them were able to successfully pass on the business to the next generation. All three were run by immigrants to the US.
In one case changes in business demographics led to the closing of the business. In each of the other situations there was a lack of trust in the younger generation and in their ability to innovate. This was surprising given that both of these businesses had been started by the parents of the last owners.
The immigrant generation led with an iron hand, but they knew that they didn’t know American culture very well. The second generation knew America, but didn’t trust the Boomer generation to work as hard. We certainly didn’t listen and obey as well; and that may have led to the distrust.
In both cases the younger generation had good ideas, some of which were implemented in one case. At other times, the ideas were dismissed. My father misunderstood the value of his business. He put all of the value of the business in his extraordinary service, which no one else could replicate.
However, he dismissed the unique quality and taste of his products. It is the products that people still talk about, not the fact that he let customers get cash back for checks they wrote. He was encouraged to take his products to mail order, and the web would have been next, but as he didn’t appreciate what he was selling it never happened.
When my father started his business there were several like it; by the time he passed away no one was doing what he did. The lesson to be learned from this is, let each generation discover what in the business has value for that generation.
BIO: Marion Cherson Bloch, PsyD, is a school psychologist, and education and family coach. Her website: www.mayaresources.com is currently under construction, but you can find articles by her at: www.ParentingByStrengths.com. There is also a link to the book Parenting By Strengths in which she has a chapter at the above link.