“Whether by fate or by choice, the day will come when you’re no longer at the helm of your family business. Realistically, you’ll never be able to plan with absolute certainty if and when it will be the right time for your family’s next generation to assume leadership. This uncertainty causes many family businesses to leave succession planning until the last possible moment, with blatant disregard for life’s “what if” scenarios. I understand that. Succession planning can be a very emotional issue and rife with discomfort for both current and future family business leaders. But all of those involved need to address succession planning effectively in order to avoid serious problems down the line, including financial loss and business collapse. Today’s family businesses have a mean age of more than 60 years and are nearing their third generation of family leadership. Other research has found that the average age at which one generational leader passes control to the next is 62, though 32% of those who say they have stepped down continue to influence key decisions in the background — thus avoiding a complete generational transfer and impeding the company’s next stage. This can cause the business to fare less well than when succession is handled in a straightforward and timely manner.”

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