It sounds easier than done, but you can start to get your family aligned with your business vision with the right strategy.

Many times a 1st generation business doesn’t know they are a family business yet. The founder started the company to pay the bills, not to create a family business with a legacy. However, now that your kids are adults and you have one of them working in the business does that make it a family business? Yep. Now the hard work starts, how do you keep it a family business? Does your family even consider it a family business?

Having lived through several mistakes myself, here is what I should have done earlier to get alignment from my family.

Step 1

Communicate. That is the downfall of many family businesses not moving from generation to generation. We don’t talk about it until it is almost too late. So, start now, it is not too late. Only 30% of 1st generations businesses make it to generation 2.  Don’t be part of those statistics. Start the conversation now. Find out how your family really feels about the business. How much do they really know about how the business operates?


Step 2

SWOT. Hold a family meeting and tell your family more about the business and the opportunities that the business has in it’s future. Do a SWOT on your business and bring it to the meeting. A SWOT will show your family all the strengths and opportunities that the 30 or 40 years of hard work has produced. It will also show them the weaknesses and threats that need to be addressed. Maybe someone in your family has the skills or the vision to jump in and help. Many times we don’t talk about the nitty gritty of the business. They may only hear or see the downsides, you working all the time or complaining about all the problems.

Remind your family what the business has provided your family over the years and explain that the heavy lifting was done in the beginning when you started. It now has a robust client base and a great reputation, that didn’t happen overnight. Also, that the business doesn’t have to continue down the same path but can branch out with the right leaders or ideas. Just look at he SWOT.


Step 3

Share your personal vision of the future. You will have two visions and they may be a little muddled. You have your personal vision and your vision for the company. Explain the differences and what impact it has on the family and the business.

At this stage, as a 1st generation family business founder you are probably more focused on retirement or slowing down. Share what you want retirement to look like for you? Do you want to fully retire, or do you just need more free time to do the things you love? Once you share your vision of the future, you might be surprised at what comes out when you start sharing. If you gearing towards slowing down that has an impact on the growth of the company. You may not have the desire or energy to take it to the next level. Share both your desires and your fears.

Not only do you want to share your personal and business vision of the future since they are so entwined but ask your family members for their vision of the family business. You may not have ever asked them. Now is the time to ask. Are they interested in the family business, or keeping it in the family? Have they been asked or shown a path to joining the business? What about your-in-laws? Have you talked to the spouses of your kids? It doesn’t have to be a child that comes into the business. Maybe the talent or enthusiasm you are missing is right in front of you?

Alignment comes from communicating, explaining, and sharing. Get that family meeting booked and get started on keeping the family business in the family. If you are not sure how to get started, bring in a family business advisor to help. I know a good one!