The ‘Family’ In Family Business #succession

Richard Shrapnel's Orienteering Succession blog

Often in family businesses, the business leaders do not share much of what happens in the day to day running of the business with their family members. There are pretty common reasons why this occurs, but it can and does undermine the future and capital value of the business.


Active Knowledge Question:

Do you see your family as a source of strength and support in your business?


In my recent posting, ‘The Accidental Family Business’, I spoke to the importance of always carrying an image of your business continuing over future generations, even if you intend to sell it in the future.

Such a view to the future will underpin the creation of an enduring business with a compounding capital value. Moreover, the strength of family businesses and their ability to grow and endure is the family component.

Do not hide the business and all its challenges from the family. Share the wins and losses with them and let them be a part of this life as well.  But often business leaders come home, and the last thing they want to bring with them are the challenges they have been facing all day long in the office or factory.

I find two common reasons why this occurs and both lie in a sense of protection:

  • ‘I don’t want to expose my family to the troubles of the business and have them begin to worry. It’s my job to carry this worry’.
  • ‘Home and family is my refuge, a place where I can escape and relax. The last thing I want to do is to bring work into my home.’

I think all of us can relate to both these feelings, which often go hand in hand.

But I have found that you are much better off from the moment you start your family business to create a space within the family time in which you share the success, plans, failures, adventures, risks and challenges that you manage daily in your family business.

My reasons for this are simple. It is sharing your life with your family and allowing them to:

  • be part of that journey;
  • support you in good and bad times;
  • appreciate the efforts you are putting in, to provide for the family;
  • provide a sounding board for your ideas and options;
  • learn from you about the joys and sorrows of running your own business and everything that goes with that.
  • building meaningful personal connections with each family member.


The benefits that a family can gain through such a practice of involving them in the business are invaluable. And the strength that it can bring to you, and therefore the business, will underpin its future success.


An entirely new level of performance.

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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel