I Took Over the Family Business but My Parents won’t Let Me Run It

You have taken over the family business. At least ostensibly. But, it appears that your parents (maybe one in particular), has yet to truly let go of the company. That is to say, your parents collectively, or mom or dad, are still running the day-to-day operations, even though they’re not supposed to do so any longer. It’s driving you crazy, and what’s more, it’s beginning to create a confusing situation among your employees. Worse still, you’re not getting the control and respect you deserve. So, what can you do?

Common Family Business Challenges

When a child or children take over the family business from their parents, it is not at all uncommon for the parents to stick around for a little while. However, if they continue with their normal presence and engagement, it can create a number of problems. First and foremost of course, is the fact that successors aren’t seen as true authority figures. But, that’s not all.

While business owners typically make more money by selling to a third party, many want to keep their companies in the family. ‘If it’s a growing and thriving business, it should appreciate and produce income for the kids,’ says Amelia Heath, a lawyer in Portland, Ore., with Davis Wright Tremaine. ‘If the kids are involved, then giving them the business can be a good choice.’ —Kiplinger

Because the children’s role has been marginalized, they don’t feel comfortable or empowered to make any needed changes. Obviously, the employee’s disposition at large will also be affected by this type of situation. In short, it creates an awkward and uncomfortable scenario that just can’t be tolerated.

How to Take Over a Family Business from Parents Who won’t Let Go

If you’re experiencing these types of circumstances, you’re probably very unhappy, to say the least. Though you appreciate your parents’ past and current contributions, you’re now the one that is supposed to be running the business. Even though they’ve passed it off to you, they’re still holding on to their previous roles. So, here are a few helpful suggestions:

  • Have “the talk.” While it’s either the last thing you want to do, or you’re eager to jump into it, you’ll have to have a firm yet caring discussion. Get the point across that you greatly appreciate all they have done and would also be equally grateful to help you out as you need it, but you must take on the position they’ve passed to you to honor their legacy. In other words, treat them with respect and gracefully allow them to transition out of the company.
  • Speak with your employees. Next, it will probably be necessary to speak to the employees in much the same way. That is to say, that you are now the one that is in charge of the business and they should look to you. Give them a little leeway with this, because if your parents are still even marginally involved, they’ll naturally feel obligated to listen to them. However, given a little time, the entire dynamic will change and the employees will respect your place as the head of the company.
  • Get all your vendors up-to-date. The same thing holds true for vendors. Because they have a long-standing relationship with your parents, they will also feel more comfortable doing business with your folks rather than you. Just as with the employees, this too will change over time.
  • Make necessary changes incrementally. Another way to make the transition go smoother is to hold off making any big changes in the short term. (At least, those things that can wait.) This way, your parents won’t feel as though they’ve been doing something wrong, or that you’ve been itching to making changes they’ve long resisted.

What other suggestions do you have? Please take a moment to share your thoughts and experiences so others can benefit from your perspective!

Interested in learning more about business? Then just visit Waters Business Consulting Group

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