Many young people are encouraged to come home to the family business with promises that the business and responsibilities will soon be theirs. However in many cases this is a false promise.
Sadly I have come across many young people and even more older people who are still waiting for the responsibilities to pass to them. A man spoke to me a few weeks ago and said “Last week I was promised that I would be running the business in 5 years time. I first heard that promise 7 years ago.”
This situation leads to frustration and disillusion and in some cases mental health problems. So these promises should be kept or they should not be made in the first place.
Young people need to sit down with parents at the outset and discuss when they are likely to get responsibility for the business. If the parents think they are not ready to pass on the business then it is far fairer to say so. Then the young person can make a choice to join the business at that stage knowing the situation, or they can choose to go elsewhere to gain experience and even earn capital to bring back to the business.
Ideally a date should be set when the overall responsibility for the business passes from one generation to the next. This will depend on the ages and experience of those involved. The advantage in having a date is that everyone can work towards it and prepare themselves for that transition.
Succession will happen. None of us get out of this alive. So setting realistic dates and working towards them is part of a robust succession plan.
However most important of all don’t make promises that are not kept. Be open and honest from the outset. It will save a lot of suffering and deterioration in family relationships.