Ask the Doc About Family-business Conflict

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Ask the Doc About Family-business Conflict

Ask Dr. Tim: “…how do I get them off my back?”


Q:

 I am the 62-year-old founder/owner of a very profitable automotive tire shop. Starting when I was 25, I have put blood, sweat, and tears into this business. It has been very profitable. About fifteen years ago, I brought my two sons into the business. One is a harder worker than the other, but the other one is better with finances. They both drop hints about taking over my job. While I guess that will happen someday, I am not ready to “go out to pasture” yet. I don’t’ even really even want to talk about it at this point. They are really upsetting me at times. How do I get them off my back?

Hank


A: 

Dear Hank,

At one level, you are a unique family business. After all, only about three out of every ten family businesses survive the founder’s tenure into the second generation. The fact that your sons even want to continue in the business is pretty unusual.

Perhaps one of the best ways to get your sons “off your back” is to do exactly what makes you uncomfortable…talk about it with them. You are avoiding a succession plan. If you plan to live forever, then you may not need one, but the chances of that happening are pretty slim. While succession planning forces us to confront our mortality, it is also freeing. Once we have a succession plan in place, we typically feel much more at peace with ourselves and our successors, in this case, that may be with your sons.

Dr. Tim