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Family Business Succession: “One day, it will all be yours” but it won’t come easy


Family Business Succession: “One day, it will all be yours” but it won’t come easy

By , September 6, 2021

Probably the most dreaded phrase in family business succession planning; at worst a hollow promise to hand over the reins/give up control and transfer ownership, and at best, a hope that it will all magically get sorted.

Smoothly handing over control and ownership of a family-owned business is every family’s dream, but if you look at the Business Succession stories of some of our best-known families you will see tears, drama, court cases and the erosion or loss of business value.

The three-circle model of family business goes part way to explaining the issues which arise when people confuse roles – owner, family member, employee, and in some cases all three – but it doesn’t explain the underlying cause.



Lots of time in Business Succession and Exit planning is spent managing the process – how, but nowhere near enough time is spent upfront understanding the various drivers and goals of the participants – the why.

Step 1 in our 21-step process is all about why – goals and outcomes – why are we transferring control, ownership, income, equity, and what outcomes are we seeking from the succession process we are about to embark on?

I have written before about role-identity fusion and this is significant for family business owners – their identity is intrinsically linked to the business and the owners’ sense of purpose / their contribution to the world and their family is also linked back to the business. Separating the owner from the business is never easy.

In order to get the best result, you need to focus on three key things (apart from remembering that why is just as important as how) –

1. “Begin with the End in Mind”

2. Start as early as possible

3. Get good advice/advisers


See our Family Business Succession Webinar for more.

Craig West

Craig West

Managing Director | Succession Plus

Craig West is a strategic accountant who has over 20 years’ experience advising business owners. His background as a CPA in public practice, provided invaluable experience in the key issues of concern to business owners. Following 6 years of study to gain two masters degrees, Craig focused on Capital Gains Tax (CGT) for business sales advising on strategic management of tax issues. This experience formed a very strong view that business owners (and often their advisers) were unprepared and unaware of the steps required to prepare a business for exit.

Craig now acts as a strategic mentor for mid-market business owners and has written four critically acclaimed books on employee incentives, succession planning, asset protection and exit strategies. Craig has conducted numerous seminars and keynote presentations throughout Australia & internationally, including adviser education programs for the Institute of Chartered Accountants and CPA Australia.

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