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Family Business Is Tough
May 14, 2010
Written By: Michelle Clark, Ph.D.

Reflecting back on our Family Business Forum has continued to remind me how much work and feeling is involved in family businesses. Like all businesses it is tough to work both in and on your business. Now add in the family dynamic. It’s tough enough to find  time in the day to accomplish everything that must be done, but how do you to find the energy to have difficult conversations with your family member owners and employees?

Our first Family Business Forum achieved everything we set out to do. The conversations that we had were lively and extremely focused! This is why the Family Business Forum was convened. Each participant made a sacrifice when they made time to step out of the business for an entire morning. Everyone was set to work on these hard questions, which demonstrate a passion for both the business and the family. 
 
In particular, I have carried one conversation with me. On participant was moved to share his regret about oversights that occurred in his family business and the impact those oversights had on both the business and the family. The loss of opportunity and the pain that a family business can go through can be avoided. It reminded me of how important it is to not ignore these issues because they won’t go away.
 
So, where do we go from here? 
 
Each Forum participant (and many of our Family Business clients) have embarked on an ongoing, changing journey. Questions abound. Who do you want to take over your business when you retire? What is the timeline for this? Is there someone capable of running your business? What happens to all of your hard work in the event of a tragedy for you and your family? Navigating all of this seems an insurmountable task. However, you have started to think about these issues. Now, you need to keep the momentum going and start working on a plan for your family.
 
It won’t always be easy, it won’t always be fun. It will be worth it! You love your family and you are passionate about your business. The costs of inaction can be devastating. Implementing plans for your family business can help prevent you from living with a feeling of regret. How do you want to be remembered and what do you want to have happen for your business? 
 
Now is the time to start answering these questions.

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