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The Key to Business Longevity: Empowering Succession in Family Businesses

By Alyanna Silvestre
Published July 12, 2023

For family businesses, the founder is usually the backbone of the organization that keeps most things — if not all — in place, but what happens when the founder retires, becomes incapacitated, or passes away? Without a well-defined plan that extends beyond the founder's capacity, the business and the livelihoods of its employees are put at risk. In light of this reality, how can a family-owned business increase its chances of securing a lasting legacy for future generations?

Addressing this challenge requires careful consideration of various factors, with governance playing a pivotal role, and at the heart of effective governance frameworks and structures lies the crucial role of strong leadership from the founder, the potential of the next generation, and the implementation of a well-defined succession plan. These essential components form the bedrock for safeguarding the family-owned business's continuity and prosperity across multiple generations.

Shaping the Future

As entrepreneurs and business leaders look to the future, it becomes increasingly vital to cultivate and harness the potential of the next generation. After all, they are the ones who would see the businesses make or break in the years to come, and none of the practices and preparations you’ve made will matter if the individual who’s set to continue the business is lacking or not capable at all. Unfortunately, instead of harnessing their capabilities as well as the unique challenges and opportunities presented by their potential, some business owners inadvertently shape their succeeding generations into their own predetermined vision of a "perfect" leader and successor. This approach risks depriving businesses of valuable insights and fresh perspectives that are essential for driving innovation and growth in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

To ensure long-term business success, leaders must actively recognize, nurture, and empower the next generation. By doing so, they enable these young individuals to contribute their unique strengths, capabilities, and perspectives, which can propel the business forward.

Building a Strong Succession Pipeline

Choosing who's next in line is not just picking who's closer or who's older. In a family business setting, objective succession planning is crucial – one that overlooks age or trivial factors or bond and closeness. After all, not all family members may possess the necessary skills or interest in assuming leadership roles, and succession should never be forced but rather carefully planned. That said, key strategies in identifying a successor include:

• Skill assessment: Evaluate each family member objectively to determine their qualifications and capabilities for running the business, and identify individuals who possess the necessary expertise and aptitude.

• Passion and commitment: Look for family members who demonstrate a genuine interest and a long-term commitment to invest the required time and effort to drive the company forward.

• Merit-based selection: Being a blood relative should never automatically guarantee a place in the business. Shift the focus from nepotism to meritocracy by emphasizing that leadership positions should be earned based on competence and proven performance, therefore enabling non-family members to be considered as well. 

• Training and development: Invest in not only training and development programs to nurture the skills and knowledge of potential successors but also in providing necessary exposure to different aspects of the business.

    Additionally, ongoing assessment is vital in identifying future leaders beyond initial assumptions to ensure that the family gets to assign the most fitting individuals for leadership roles.

    Ensuring A Fail-Proof Succession Plan

    These strategies merely scratch the surface of leading a family business for the long haul, and there is still much more to explore when it comes to securing the long-term success of your enterprise. To delve deeper into securing the longevity of your business and gain additional valuable insights, we invite you to join W+B Advisory Group’s upcoming executive event in partnership with Icon Executive Asia:

    Featuring global thought leaders Prof. Enrique Soriano and Dr. Josh Baron, along with second-generation leaders Kevin Tan from Alliance Global Inc. and Lance Gokongwei from JG Summit Holdings Inc., this event will explore strategies and best practices for cultivating future leaders, selecting successors, and fostering a smooth transition to achieve business longevity and secure the legacy of the family.

    Don't miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights. Secure the future of your family business by attending this informative event by registering at the following link: