Specialty Fabrics Review February 2020 - 34

S U CC E S S I O N

PLANNING

family business can offer
great rewards-personally
and professionally-for
its founders and their
descendants. But a
family business also presents
unique challenges and requires
careful planning and management,
especially when it comes time for one
generation to step aside and another
to take over. The irony is that even for
excellent communicators, succession
planning is something family
businesses often shy away from.

A seamless transfer of leadership
in a family business requires hard
conversations and a detailed road map
to avoid the worst potholes and ensure
a successful journey.

34 REVIEW FEBRUARY 2020

"It's one of those topics family businesses
often avoid like the plague," says Stephen P.
Miller, president of GenSpan Inc., an Asheville,
N.C., family business planning firm, and
co-founder of the Family Enterprise Center
at the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill. "It can be uncomfortable. But if the family
business wants to continue, it's critical."
The difficulty comes not just when a
founder is involved, says Miller; it can be
just as tricky if the second or third generations
were the ones that really built the company.
"There's a lot of personal identity tied up
in the business," he explains.
Succession planning requires the current
ownership, no matter which generation it is,
to "think about stepping back, and about their
own mortality," says Miller. "And because the
next generation may have a lot of questions,
it's easy for them to feel that if they bring them
up to Mom and Dad, they may be perceived
as pushing them out or putting their nose in
the business where it doesn't belong."
But the hard conversations need to happen.



Specialty Fabrics Review February 2020

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