Family businesses may resemble their non-family counterparts in most ways, but there’s one crucial difference. Whenever close relatives work together, deep emotions invariably become involved – emotions that can further complicate the already difficult decision whether to sell a family enterprise.
If you’re thinking about selling a family business, don’t overlook what your emotions are telling you about the potential sale. In some instances, of course, you’re better off listening to your head. But in this case, it’s just as important to consider what your heart is telling you too.
Why You Might Sell
Your decision to sell a family business may start with financial need. Maybe you’re looking ahead to retirement and want to feel more secure. Or maybe you see stiff challenges ahead for your company, with fewer growth prospects available or increased competition looming.
You might also look to sell a family business if you’re concerned that no one in the next generation has stepped up as an obvious management successor.
In addition, the stress of working together can be too much for some families to handle comfortably. Family strife is always unpleasant, but when family members who work together don’t get along and the tensions spill into the workplace, it can make for a destructive personal and professional environment.
Why You Might Not
Selling a family business can feel like selling a part of your family. If you sell, your decision will have a significant impact on the lives of people you care about – relatives, employees, and, especially if the business is in a close-knit community, local residents.
Your decision to sell may be especially stressful if you’re thinking of selling a business handed down to you over many years. You may wonder about what your forebears would do in your shoes.
With such factors to consider, you may decide to refuse an otherwise attractive offer and keep your business going – a decision that will allow you to maintain your independence, and pass on to future generations the same opportunities that you received.
Yet before you turn down an attractive offer, make sure you discuss your expectations with the members of the next generation. If your chosen successors aren’t interested or able to manage the business, you may be setting the stage for serious family conflict.
No Easy Answers
Sometimes, selling your business may be the best solution for everyone involved, providing you and your family with the assets you need to pursue your next dreams.
But because the decision to sell can be highly emotional, make sure you are comfortable with the idea of selling. Just because the numbers may add up doesn’t mean you’ll be happy when you no longer have the business that has been an important part of your family