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Do you have a family business succession plan?

OPINION | By Dickson Tumuramye

“Any company owner that wants to grow their brand has to delegate. Giving people their responsibilities is the only way to develop a company unless you have super powers of course!” said Anna Gaia.

Looking at formal or informal businesses, every business needs a person who understands it to run it successfully. When it comes to big family businesses, one need to look beyond him/herself and visualize its sustainability 50 years when he/she is no more. The whole process starts with identifying and mentoring someone that will grow it all the way through one generation to another.

We are all running businesses but in different styles. Some businesses start from scratch until they grow up into multibillion businesses. But how best they succeed from first generation to the fourth generation remains the biggest challenge.

I may not have exact answer why different businesses fail but factors vary; inadequate capital, management issues, location, market, death, theft, seasons among others.

The question I would like to ponder upon is “do you have a business succession plan in place that can go beyond your legacy? Can it go beyond your own and your children’s hands? How well have you involved your children in your businesses? 50 years from now, what will you need to see in order to say, “My business life has been a success?” or 50 years from now, what one sentence will describe your family business life?

As most of us claim to be investing for our children, how much do they know about these businesses? Learning from Indians, their businesses have succeeded from first generation to the fourth generation. Why is it hard for Ugandan businesses to excel beyond even the vision bearer?

Why is it hard for parents to trust their children or family members with their businesses? How much have you trained and mentored your children to run your multibillion businesses? Why would you take your children to school to study something totally different yet you could have mentored them to study something relevant to the running of your businesses?

How often do you share your business dream/vision and objectives with your family members? Which person have you intentionally mentored to take over from you whether still alive or dead?

I know we are gifted differently and we can’t all have similar interests in life or family business. I guess even the identical twins differ in some life’s aspects. Nonetheless, there are some skills that if children were all along involved, one time they too would feel accountable.

The succession plan is one aspect that you need to think about and this doesn’t begin at a later stage; it starts right away from childhood. Have you thought about a business successor? You need to differentiate between your family heir and business successor. These two should be mentored differently because their tasks, job description or terms of reference are not the same.

If you feel it should be the same person, then you need to clearly separate the two aspects along mentorship.

Assuming you have observed that your child is taking a parallel direction and interests, please don’t force him or her in what you like. Instead walk the business journey together and support each other’s interests.  The success of both of you will create recycle that will finally put you on the same round table.

I wonder why people would trust their businesses with non-family members yet they have similar potential of human resource in their homes? If we do that and think we are investing for our children, I think we are lying ourselves.

We know businesses which after the death of their owners, they also die with them except that the burial for business happens gradually. Don’t be everything in your business. Mentor a family member and leave a business legacy.

The writer is a Child Advocate

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