The Family Dinner Table #succession

Richard Shrapnel's Orienteering Succession blog

Everyone in a family business understands the sacrifices they require and the impacts they can have on our partners and children through our absences and commitment to the business. But there is a pleasure and freedom that is experienced through being in business. It’s important that we talk to these aspects with our family so they may appreciate why being in business can be so fulfilling, can share in these joys and nurture their own entrepreneurial spirit. 


Active Knowledge Questions:

Is anyone in your family interested in going into business? And how are you seeding, encouraging and guiding their vocation choices?  


A Season For Conversations:

Starting with Thanksgiving on 28 November 2019, moving through Christmas on 25 December 2019 and then into Chinese New Year commencing on 25 January 2020, this is a season in which many families reconnect around these celebrations and many other celebrations that occur at this time of the year. It is a time for strengthening relationships, and in this six-part series, we will revisit how conversations build great families and their businesses.


Part 2 – Encouraging Entrepreneurship


In family businesses, we sometimes don’t talk about the business at the dinner table. If things are not going well, it can be a form of self-protection and not wanting to burden the family. At other times, well the family home is our refuge, our time to rest and recoup and the last thing we want is to revisit all the challenges encountered in the office and factory floor. 

In some families, there is not an empathy, an understanding of why we are working such long hours and not spending more time with the family. This can seed a lack of family support, conflict and a very negative attitude towards family businesses.

From the moment you start your business, you want your family 110% behind your effort and supporting you every step of the way. Being in business is not just work, it’s a life purpose choice, and that life must be shared with and include the family.  


Our children learn from us what business is all about and whether it is something worthy of their life choices. They observe what impact being in business has on us as individuals and our families. Is it good, or is it bad? 

I believe you should always draw to the surface and encourage your children in their areas of natural talent and strength. Allow them to be discovered and then invest in them. Great businesses are built by people who discover and build a business that is authentic of who they are as a person. Encourage your children to find this cornerstone through your conversations with them.

The Dinner Table

Athletes become great not by focusing on their failings and weaknesses, but by reinforcing their strengths and the processes that will bring their best to the forefront. They never reinforce their mistakes but only focus on the course of action that will make them winners. 

At the dinner table, the messaging should always be positive, forward-looking and about growth as individuals and a family. If we keep visiting failings as individuals, family or in business, we are setting our paths to only repeat those mistakes. 

Always uplift, set a path forward, create opportunity and seed possibility. No one ever starts a business from a position of weakness or doubt; they step forward with expectations of success. 

At the dinner table, always enquire about the possibilities for the future for each and every person. Encourage them to explore, step forward and not to accept a lesser life than what may be possible for them.


Draw your family into the business and openly share the wins and the challenges every day. Make the business a part of the family. Allow your passion for being in business to always be present, even at the most challenging times. Inspire your family through your example of courage, resilience and a never-ending exploration of what you can achieve. And through this example, their lives will become fulfilled and exceptional in a way authentic to them.


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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel