It is not an easy task to decide whether or not you want to ‘get out’ or have a family member or employee be your successor. Assuming that you want to have the business continue your next decision may be one of the most difficult you have ever had to make.
A family member employee is not crazy about the business; it’s a job. On the other hand a family member successor candidate seeks to exceed expectations in every aspect of the business. They are crazy about the business; driven to do whatever they can to promote the family business. They do not dwell on the jobs they like or make them happy, but have a “just put me in the game, coach” attitude. Most sibling rivalry or family management issues are due to confusion between the family member employee and a family member successor. As a result they are put in a position to compete against one another, which creates frustration and ugly warfare behind the scenes.
To help you evaluate your potential successor candidate start with the following criteria: Look for ‘we thinkers” as compared to those who think, “what’s in it for me”. The family member must have the raw talent and they should demonstrate the ability to assume responsibility, build relationships and bring additional value to the business. The family member must also have the basic intellectual knowledge of what it takes and an understanding of how serving beyond expectations can impact business performance. Without commitment and passion for the business none of the above matter. My belief is that the parent or family member owner would benefit greatly from a third party observer in order to take some of the emotion out of such an impossible decision.