Can You Let Go of the Family Enterprise?

Ross Henry | Family and Finance | February 25, 2011

Imagine this: you’re a boomer quickly approaching 65 who owns a family business. You have spent most of your life building and running this successful enterprise. Lately you’ve become not so much tired of it as you are electrified at the thought of doing something different. This dynamic is playing out all over the country as the boomer generation gazes into the future and seeks “second acts” of greatness.

But how will they release an iron grip on something that has largely defined their life for so long? How will they prepare the next generation of family leaders? How will they position business operations for future success in their absence? And what about money – where will they draw income when they step away?

These questions require much thought, much dialog with family members, business employees and customers, and most important of all – a transition plan. Unfortunately, research shows that only about 30 percent of the country’s family businesses have written transition plans. In our backyard, about 25 percent of Northwest companies spend little or no time on succession planning.

Why does it matter? As our CEO and President, Bob Moser, wrote in a recent commentary in Seattle Business magazine, “Clear succession planning can get (family business) leaders on an early path to success, minimize potential conflict between heirs and establish stability for business continuity on which families and family firms rely for both income and community impact.”

You can read the rest of Bob Moser’s column here.

Ross Henry
Ross Henry
Ross is a Client Advisor at Laird Norton Wealth Management. He has 20 years of financial services experience, with a special focus on family-owned businesses and closely held companies.