Taking Care of Your Business Family

Many business owners eventually reach a crossroads where their families want them to slow down and take it easy, even if they aren’t ready to. This can be even more challenging if, as one business owner put it, you “feel more appreciated at the office than at the dinner table.”

In these situations, committing to planning for a successful future could help keep you stay active in running your business, take care of your business family, and address family desires for you to begin thinking about a future outside the business (whether by choice, death, or otherwise).

How Planning Can Keep You Active

If you’re still at the helm of your business, you might think, “I’m already busy enough. Why would I want another activity?” A key benefit of strong planning is that it could help you reduce your activity in parts of the business you may not enjoy and increase the parts you’re most passionate about.

For example, if you’re a sales rainmaker at heart and are less interested in internal operations, part of your planning could be to find a next-level management team to run operations while you dedicate more time to what you love in the business.

On the other hand, if you’ve already begun reducing your responsibilities in your business, planning for a successful future could be a way for you to reengage in an aspect of building the business. In many cases, planning for a successful future involves taking steps to strengthen the business for your eventual exit. In addition to installing next-level management, this could also involve creating written, scalable processes; diversifying your customer base; and increasing business value.

The strategies required to achieve these goals could present new, invigorating challenges for you, along with new ways of defining business success.

Taking Care of the Business Family

For some business owners, the business is actually like a family—full of people they want to care for, help succeed, and protect. In these cases, it can be tempting to think, “I need to be here for them always.”

But as is the case with many families, constantly solving everyone’s problems can stunt development. It could be the case that for the family to truly thrive, others in the family may need to learn to begin to do things themselves.

If you feel more appreciated at the office than at the dinner table, planning could help you develop those in the office to keep your business successful and perhaps even take it to new heights.

A fairly common example of this is when business owners sell the business to insiders. In many cases, the sale happens over the course of years and allows the owner and insiders to take on new responsibilities at an appropriate pace. The owner is still ready and willing to guide the insiders when necessary while the insiders learn the ropes, develop their skills, and eventually run the business successfully (and allow the business owner to achieve financial security in the process).

This planning scenario could let business owners continue to feel the appreciation of their employees while also helping them develop into successes in their own right. Many business owners find that planning helps set expectations and ground rules for success without forcing them to give up everything they’ve built.

Addressing Family Desires

When family desires for your career don’t align precisely with yours, planning can help you find a happy medium.

For many business owners, planning for a successful future involves setting their families up for success after they leave the business, by choice, death, or otherwise. It also may require the business owner’s involvement over a certain period of time to achieve the plan’s goals for the family (e.g., making the business valuable enough for a sale to allow the family to experience financial independence).

In this way, planning could show your family that you are actively working to address their desires for the future while still fulfilling your personal and business goals.

For example, your family may want you to retire within two years, but your planning may show that it takes five years to allow you to achieve financial independence. In this situation, you can actively do what’s necessary to remain active in your business (executing on the plan) while also working toward your family’s desires and expectations (retiring, albeit on a longer timeline).