The professionals who provide services to family businesses come from a variety of fields, but even so, most of them have a lot in common. Whether they are accountants, lawyers, tax specialists, wealth managers or insurance specialists, they typically deal with business and financial issues.

If we are talking about family businesses, why aren’t there any who deal with the family? The truth is that there are some people who specialize in the family circle, but not nearly as many professionals who advise the business and ownership circles.

The field of family business advising as a sub-specialty of business advising is relatively new, but it is growing and slowly being recognized as an important area. Most people can quickly see that there are lots of business issues that affect the family, but fewer have actually thought about the fact that there are family issues that affect the business too.

The people whose serve the family side of things more than the business side have a number of obstacles to overcome; let’s look at some of them, in no particular order.

Content vs Process

A lawyer will prepare a shareholders agreement, an accountant will prepare a set of financial statements and a wealth manager will make an investment for you. They are all discrete transactions, all of them are tangible; each is one piece of content.

Facilitating family meetings, mediating a dispute between siblings, or helping bring a family together to work on their values, vision and goals, for their part, are more process related. These functions can be very important for long-term family business success, and as such, they are often longer term in nature.

Transaction vs Relationship

The content pieces I mentioned above are typically done as separate transactions. Yes, relationships are also important to work on for accountants and lawyers, but in the family realm, it is almost all about the relationship, and the advisor needs to develop a good working relationship with everyone, not just the person who signs the cheques.

Soft vs Hard

Some people like to talk about hard skills versus soft skills, and I suppose that is one way of looking at it, but let’s not forget that the “soft” stuff is often actually much HARDER to deal with. Few of those who work on the transactions are trained to deal with these soft issues, and many families don’t want to talk about their family problems with those who charge them several hundred dollars an hour.

Business is about $$$ vs Family is about Love

Business is usually very much about making money and creating wealth, while family is all about love. It is the head versus the heart, and they do not necessarily always agree.

The advisor who can show you how his tax strategy can save you $XX,000.00 has an easier sale than the one who tells you that he can help make sure that your family has conflict-free Thanksgiving dinners in the future. How much is that worth?

Art vs Science

What it comes down to in many ways is that it is an art to deal with the family, while dealing with the business is more of a science. To be a good family business advisor, you need to be able to bridge both of these, art AND science.

There are some family therapists who help families deal with conflict, but very few of them understand anything about business, so it is hard for them to provide that bridge.

I have come up with an analogy, but I am not sure how good it is, but here goes.

Paint-by-Numbers

When I was a kid, I did a few paint by numbers, and while it felt like I was an artist, I was just filling in spaces with pre-decided colours of paint, which is more like science.

We need to be able to show our client families the canvas with the outlines of what we can do, and tell them what colour we can help them put in which spaces. This way, they will better understand what we can do for them, in a way that helps them see the value we can bring.

As much as I struggled to find the right title for this blog post, I know that I will likely struggle more writing it, as the tears are already welling up in my eyes just contemplating the topic.

Thankfully, this writing is actually a bit therapeutic for me.

Bosco was a Golden Retriever who had been with us for the past 8 and-a-half years, after spending his first two years with another family, who unfortunately went through a divorce. It was unfortunate for them, since they could not agree on who got to keep him, but very lucky for us.

Our kids were just 5 and 6 at the time, so it is no exaggeration to say that he has been a part of most of their childhood family memories, with the series of annual Christmas photos as a reminder of how they grew up as he grew old.

He had slowed down considerably over the years, but still seemed to be in decent health considering his sedentary lifestyle and his propensity to hang around the kitchen, you know, just in case some food happened to fall on the floor.

But on Wednesday this week, my wife was out of town and I was at an event downtown. The kids were at home with the pets (Bosco plus another dog and 3 cats), and things went bad unexpectedly and quickly.

My daughter texted me around 5 PM saying something was wrong with Bosco, so I called her to see what was up. Difficulty breathing, and inability to even stand up, hmmm, I thought, I better head home quickly.

By the time I got to my car not even 10 minutes later, she texted me to say that she feared the worst. I got home and sadly realized that she was right. Sad enough to have an old friend pass away, but sadder still that it happened in front of my kids, without their parents there.

My son helped me load him into the car for one final trip to the vet, where we said goodbye one last time, and we both cried all the way home.

After sleeping on it a few nights, I am very thankful for the quickness with which he scheduled his ultimate departure, if not the exact timing. How many stories have you heard about people whose pets get sick, and they then have to make choices between expensive veterinary procedures and letting nature take its course.

I will now try to carefully draw a parallel between the case of a pet and that of a parent. I say “carefully” because I recall an instance when my aunt passed away, and my father suggested to her widower husband that he get a dog.

Dad was making what he felt was a constructive suggestion to help his brother-in-law through some of the grief and loneliness, but I know that some people took it wrongly, as if he was suggesting that my aunt could be “replaced” by a dog.

The story I wish to convey is about my Dad, and how he left us relatively early, yet not so quickly as to leave us scrambling.

My mother recently related to me that when she and my Dad used to go and visit his mother during her long battle with Alzheimers, on the drive home, Dad always said to her, “If I ever get like that, please shoot me”.

The cancer saved us from having to go through that, and Bosco’s passing, also likely from cancer, saved us a lot of tough times and extra heartache.

And the title for this blog? I borrowed it from my 13-year-old daughter’s Facebook post about the loss of her “old friend”.

Sometimes sad events allow us to appreciate how quickly our kids have matured while we were paying attention to other things.

Goodbye Bosco. It is better to have loved you and lost you, than to never have loved you at all.

 

While in Philadelphia with my teenage son this past summer, we visited the Franklin Institute and checked out some of their great science exhibits. They have a huge variety of things to see, as well as some live demos scheduled throughout each day.

I always make sure that we come up with some kind of a plan to see the most important stuff in some kind of a coherent fashion, and the last demo we saw really stuck with me.

It was about the changing nature of water through a range of temperatures, from ice to water, and then from water to steam. The guy doing the demo was the same man we had seen earlier in the day showing kids some cool stuff involving liquid nitrogen, and we both enjoyed his way of getting the little kids into it, and garnering a lot of laughs along the way.

I can’t say that either of us actualy learned anything new, but for some reason an important analogy popped into my head. As usual for me, the only way to do it justice is to write a blog about it.

Of course the ice-to-water-to-steam concept also applies to many other forms of matter, but I started thinking about how it applies to wealth, and more specifically family business wealth.

An established business, that is profitable and well run, represents a form of wealth that most people consider solid. When a family owns such a business, they often try to find the best way to pass this solid wealth on to future generations, as they see the value and potential permanence of the wealth that it holds.

Passing a business from one generation is often quite tricky, as the statistics surely bear out, but the stories of those that succeed are an inspiration to those who are attempting a similar feat.

In many cases, and for many reasons, passing the wealth down in the solid form of a business is not possible or practical. In many of these instances, the business is sold off to others instead, in what is often dubbed a “liquidity event”. How convenient for my analogy, that the wealth has gone from solid to liquid.

Liquid wealth has its own pros and cons, of course. The biggest advantage is the flexibility that it affords its owners, especially as far as diversification and asset allocation are concerned. Sounds great, so what are the cons?

My simplest reply is that the business, much like real estate, is viewed as solid, especially by the expected heirs, who expect to benefit from the profits, income and/or dividends it throws off, but very few members of the next generation ever consider the idea of selling pieces off in order to get their hands on the wealth.

Going back to the ice-water-steam analogy, here is how I think most of the senior generation members view this situation.

A business is solid, like a block of ice. If you can keep it in the freezer, it will last a long time, and it can even just sit there in a block, on a shelf. And you can even lock the freezer. Once it is liquid, you don’t have to keep it in the freezer anymore, and you can use it for more things.

But, it is also easy to spill, and you need some kind of a container to keep it in. And you need to beware of thirsty people coming by and asking for a sip. The related problem is that it is now subject to evaporation, one step closer to steam, and much more difficult to control.

The generation that is currently in control understands how easily it can disappear, and they struggle with how they can be sure that some of the wealth will be available to their grandchildren and future generations.

Keeping a family together around a business is one thing, keeping them together around money is much harder.

 

Editor’s note: This blog post is essentially a translation of last week’s post that was written in French

Recently I have had the opportunity to reflect on the subject of offering an “informed choice”. It began while I was taking a conflict resolution course in which I had the chance to act as a mediator between opposing parties, in a variety of scenarios.

The course used “interest-based negotiation” as its foundation, and one of the instructors noted that one of the goals of the mediator is to ensure that the parties make what he dubbed “an informed choice”.

I had never thought of it in that way, so I actually wrote it down, in ink, in my course binder, and added the word “BLOG!” beside it. (I actually turned it into two blogs; or a “blogue” –last week, in French- and this blog).

Now taking notes in class is not something that I do very often, since I believe that if something is really important, I will remember it, and if I don’t, it probably wasn’t that important anyway.

But the idea that one of the roles of a mediator is to make sure that the parties choose to accept or reject any offer ONLY after having understood all of the issues and consequences, well this was new and almost revolutionary to me.

Those who know me well know that I believe that communication is the most important subject for business families. Too often the lack of communication and poor communication become sources of major problems for such families.

The result of these communication errors is that people end up making decisions based on perceptions of the facts that are far from informed and clear, but rather erroneous and misinformed hypotheses.

When I work with families that are not at the point of requiring mediation, I encourage them to share their ideas and points of view, and to communicate regularly on these points.

This is always done on the premise that the best choices and decisions are made after reflection, in a situation where each person can say that they are acting with all of the information available, and that they are in fact making a fully informed choice.

Hidden somewere in this whole area is another important point. In many typical situations that require mediation, the parties are unrelated, and one party or the other may have a certain advantage when it comes to the information they have, their understanding of the situation, and the alternatives available.

When dealing with members of the same family, I feel that it is even more important to ensure that each individual has the opportunity to make a choice based on the same facts.

I recently listened to a presentation on the web by a Toronto colleague of mine, Jeff Noble of BDO, on shareholders’ agreements. In it, he mentioned a stunning statistic, saying that according to some lawyers, 80% of shareholders’ agreements prepared by these lawyers are never signed! But why not?

The goal of his presentation was to convince business families to work out their agreements in cooperative fashion, together, while sharing each other’s perspectives. This way, they can arrive at an agreement that each person will actually sign, willingly.

And that is why I title this blog “The Importance of Offering an Informed Choice”, and not simply “The Importance of an Informed Choice”.

What is both very important and sometimes very difficult is to make sure that all parties actually have the proper attitude and the spirit of cooperation necessary to arrive at these truly durable decisions.

You may believe that when you are dealing with members of the same family, it will always be very easy to achieve this, but unfortuately it is not always the case.

Thankfully for those families, there are people trained in mediation, coaching, and facilitating family meetings who are available to help.

Last week we finished up with my tech problem partially solved, but in a very sub-optimal way. The toll free number of the overseas company left me with a bad taste in my mouth (curry?) so I tried Microsoft’s support website again, because at least it was free.

There was a place to click for a “live chat”, and I wondered if it would actually work. I had used this type of feature a few times in the past, usually on websites that are trying to sell you something, as it is a good way for the company to answer questions.

What the heck, so I click on OK, and start typing my problem. It took a minute or two to get a reply from “Melinfor” (which I concluded was probably his real name, as the headshot of him did look like someone named Mel).

Live chats are much cheaper for the company than phone calls because the agents can work on a number of different customers’ issues at the same time, since there is usually plenty of downtime resolving these things.

I didn’t mind waiting for Mel to get back to me for a minute or so, because he quickly understood my problem, proposed the solution, and wrapped it all up in under 15 minutes.

He could not revive my old hotmail address, because it is technically impossible to do so. But he got me the next best solution. And I learned a lot of lessons through this ordeal, which I will gladly share.
1. You don’t need to speak to someone to get something accomplished. Technology today allows so many options that do not involve talking on the phone.

When I look back on my insistence on “calling someone”, I am reminded of my father, whose preferred method was to speak to someone, but those were the days when you could easily call and speak to a live person, and the alternatives were going to the store or writing a letter.

2. I don’t miss the spam. When you have the same email address for 15 years, you get a lot of spam. Most of it is easily filtered, but the best side effect of this incident is a lot less crap in my inbox.

3. When you die, you are dead. When I clicked on “remove” for my old address, after already having made the other address my primary one, it was overkill for what I wanted to do. I had not realized the implications of that one click, and after doing it, I was “dead”.

There are some actions that you cannot come back from. For every time I have seen those messages “Are you sure?” when I was deleting something, I would have appreciated at least one heads-up on this one. Moral: You don’t always get a heads-up or a warning. Be careful!

4. What you think you see is not always what it appears to be.

I called a toll-free number for support, which I had wrongly assumed was a Microsoft number. I was stressed by my situation, and fell for a trick, but I have to say that the trick is pretty clever.

If your company has people who can “help” computer users solve their problems, what better way to get them to call you could you come up with?

There are lots of forums online where people ask for tech help, and sometimes those people are looking for a phone number to speak to someone. So you go on these forums pretending that you are just a regular contributor answering a question, and post your number, and people call you.

I just wonder, though, if they put their company name there, along with their number, and told people it was support that they had to pay for, how many calls would they get? Answer: Fewer.

I won’t get fooled again.

When you make a mistake and it costs you, the worst thing that you can do, in my opinion, is to fail to learn from it. If you can learn from it, and even help others learn, the cost can become well worth it.

This week I made such a mistake, and it cost me a bit of money, and a LOT of time to clean up. And while the end result is not perfect, it has some added benefits that make up for its shortcomings.

This week I will try to give you a quick “Reader’s Digest” version of the events, and next week I will cover the lessons learned.

I have been working with a Hotmail account since before Microsoft bought them, literally in the last century.

Nowadays you can use their Outlook service with any email address using an “alias”, and I wanted to make my sl@stevelegler.com address the primary one, but I went one click too far, and accidentally deleted my old Hotmail address.

“Ooops! I better put it back”. But it was not possible to do so online. Aaaargh. After a few hours on Monday evening, I gave up and went to bed, figuring I would try to call and speak to someone the next morning.

I could send emails out, but I couldn’t receive any. A few years ago, this would not have bothered me, because when you run a family office, you usually don’t want to be found. But now, as a family business advisor, building a client list, this was a problem.

At about 4 AM, I woke up and could not get back to sleep. Was it because I was “off the grid”? Or was it because I was trying to figure out how I was gonna get back on the grid?

On their customer support website, it is nearly impossible to find a phone number, because it costs them a lot of money to help you that way. They prefer to minimize those interactions, but I was hell bent on calling someone, because I was hoping that they could revive my old email address, and that was the simplest solution.

So I googled “hotmail support phone number” and just like that, I came upon an answer with a toll-free number. I called, and “Jessica” told me this was a “paid support” line.

Now I had a live person, and I just “knew” that my problem only required a quick fix, so how much could that cost, I wondered. But I had that live person and did not want to let go, so I said OK.

Half an hour later, she was finally at the point where she understood my problem almost as well as I did. Another 20 minutes or so later, her tech friend, to whom I could hear her speaking in another language, had supplied me with a new hotmail address, which I could have done on my own, had I concluded that this was my best choice.

Oh well, we are almost done, so I let them finish up. Another 10 minutes with “Harry” to give him my Visa number to cover the $149.99 to pay their company, not Microsoft, but some randomname-noname.com service company.

I felt like I had been had, but at least I had something workable, and they did spend time helping me, and I had agreed to pay.

But my fun was just beginning, as I now had a new Hotmail account that could receive and send emails. However, my other account, where I had all my contacts and dozens of folders of saved emails, could only send emails.

I still needed to somehow “fuse” them together.

So do I call them back, or try another solution?

Hint:
Next week: How Microsoft saved the day, and how I learned that you don’t need to actually speak to someone to get things done.

Last week I came across a Tweet about how sitting can kill you, complete with all sorts of stats that made me think about my own habits and how sedentary they are.

A news report then followed, touting the benefits of treadmill desks that some companies have installed for workers, that has them walk slowly but for long periods of time, with great results.

In an effort to see if something like this was actually doable for me, I looked for a way to try this out with the treadmill that I already have at my office. So it was off to IKEA.

I purchased a small table that attaches to a wall, and brought it to my office. My 13-year-old daughter has assembled lots of her own IKEA stuff, and she offered to come to my office and do most of the work. What follows is our separate accounts of the experience.

His version:

What can you expect from an eighth-grader? Well, when she is MY daughter, I expect quite a bit. And she rarely disappoints, and she did not disappoint this time either.

She assembled the pieces perfectly with no instructions or supervision from me. So now it was time for me to get involved because it was time to attach it to the wall. It was also time for things to begin to go downhill.

“Oh, so those screws don’t come with it?” I asked. “No, I guess we need to go to the hardware store”. Off we went. But first I checked to see that I did have the plastic shields to put into the gyproc to make sure the screws would hold well. Check.

So we get there and I locate some good strong screws, ignoring the packs of screws that come with shields, since I already had those. Let’s go put in these 6 screws and our work will be done.

Except that the big screws did not fit with the shields I had installed, so we had to start over, with four big holes in the wall. We hit another patch of frustration due to one of my screw-ups, the details of which I no longer recall, resulting in more holes.

Long story short, we finally got the wall-mounted table attached, after more sweat (no tears or blood!) and a few muffled bad words.

She gets a 9/10, I don’t know if I deserve a 5/10.

Her version:

My father bought an IKEA desk, and seeing as I’m the IKEA expert of the family, I offered to go to his office and help him build it and hang it up.

When we got to his office, I decided to start off the building of the desk. I’d dealt with IKEA furniture before, so I completed it with ease, but it still needed to be mounted. The treadmill then needed to be turned 90° so that the desk could over-hang properly.

We realized that the screws required to hang the desk were not included in the box, so we were off to the hardware store!

We got big sturdy ones that could support the weight of the fixture. We came back and put in shields, but they didn’t go in properly, but we still tried to hang the desk and failed miserably. So we took them out, and moved it an inch to the right, and tried again. One of the shields broke, another one went straight through the wall.

At this point, I thought we were pretty much screwed. But then, we tried one last time, and we went a bit upward and took our time. It worked!

The desk is now hanging more or less properly over the treadmill (I’d give us an 8/10). I had an over-all great day with my dad, and I’m looking forward to having some feedback from my father about his brand-new treadmill desk.

This past week our family was at the cottage, where we do not have all the comforts of home (although we are far from roughing it!)

I was washing the dishes after supper one night, and I had a flashback to my childhood, making me realize how much things had changed in just one generation. I started out thinking about doing dishes, but then thought about all kinds of other family issues too.

When I was a kid, we were the last family on our street to get a colour TV. I remember that we were lobbying our parents for that colour TV, but my mother wanted a dishwasher.

I don’t actually remember if we ended up getting the TV or the dishwasher first, but I do clearly remember the fights I had with my sisters over whose turn it was to dry the dishes each night.

All sorts of memories came back, about my Dad forcing us to create a calendar to keep track of whose turn it was; complaining that there were more dishes on the nights when it was my turn; thinking that maybe if I “accidentally” broke some plates, I might “get fired”.

So here I am at the cottage, washing the dishes by myself, and I never even asked my able-bodied teenagers to join me. Was I just sacrificing myself , so they could enjoy the last few days of their summer vacation, or was I trying to avoid the whining that would surely result in my asking for help?

After I had washed them all, they were drying in the rack, so I just left them there overnight, and put them away the next morning. This made me wonder why I was forced to dry dishes 40 years ago in the first place; did we not have the patience to let nature take its course and let them dry themselves? In retrospect, it seems like there was a lot of fussing over nothing.

But of course the real question that arises is whether we are we spoiling our kids by not making them help out more, or is this just the way people raise their kids these days, or both?

And what about that “colour TV” we wanted, not many families are having that discusssion nowadays, as TVs are becoming passé, with such a variety of screens all over the house.

I remember watching the old Spiderman cartoons with my young son a decade ago, where episodes featured the words “In Colour!” and I had to explain to him that back then, everything used to be in black and white.

We have come a long way with technology, and few would argue that so many of the changes have been positive.

What about the family, and not raising the kids to help out? I am not sure if that is such a good thing. We want our kids to become independent, but we don’t always help them by doing so much for them.

In wealthier families, this can be even more of an issue, as the kids can begin to think that household tasks like mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, and keeping the house clean are somehow beneath them, as they are all things we pay “others” to do.

Back to me doing the dishes that night, at least my kids were not thinking, “Wow, Dad is doing the dishes!” as if it was something that should automatically be Mom’s job. That is one thing that has definitely changed since my father’s generation.

Somehow, though, I am pretty sure my son is hoping he will end up finding someone like his grandmother, who did view that as part of the woman’s role. But they don’t make them like her anymore, do they?

We all get stuck sometimes. We can be in a groove one day, and then suddenly find ourselves in a rut the next. It isn’t necessarily important to figure out what happened, but it is important to figure out what to do next. It isn’t what happens to us that matters, it’s what we do about it.

I am currently in the middle of nowhere, at our family cottage in New Brunswick. We got here a week ago, and we will be here for another week, and then we head back home and the kids start school, and everything returns to “normal”.

I don’t know what it is about this place, but everything just seems more calm and peaceful here. I came here by myself in January to get my book started, and I think that that was when I noticed how different everything feels here.

When I was doing the CTI Coaches training, I remember being sceptical when I first heard the term “geography”, and the concept that where you are, and even what position your body is in, can make such a big difference. But I can now say that I am a firm believer.

The best thing is that you do not have to drive 9 hours to my cottage to enjoy the benefits that Geography can give you. You could simply walk out the door and walk to the nearest park bench, or the local Starbucks. Or head to the airport and fly down south to sit on a beach, if you like.

The point is, where you are matters. It changes how you see things, how you think about things, how you feel, how you relate to others, and how you think about the future. When you bring along others you will learn things about them, and when you go alone, you will learn about yourself.

If your family is important to you, it makes sense to carefully consider where you get together. If you work in a family business, you probably have already experienced the fact that some people are better at separating “home” and “work” than others. When I started working fulltime for my Dad, I was still living at home, but within less than a year I couldn’t take it anymore and had to move out.

A family retreat is something that some business families try to incorporate into their schedules, as an opportunity to get everyone together, but in a different place, because they realize that “where” matters. The parents’ home is their place and their turf, even if you grew up there. The office is a place of work, and some of the stuff that needs to be discussed is not work related (even if it is some of the hardest work!).

Most families try to choose a resort location, and they try to make sure they have a variety of activities on the schedule, as well as lots of free unscheduled time, to allow people and smaller groups to interact as they please.

Whether your family is ready for this type of bonding activity or not is another question of course, but it will only happen when somebody decides that it is something worthwhile. And then it has to be followed up and repeated in the future in order to get some momentum.

Regardless of whether there are any family retreats in your future, I hope you will try out the geography theory that I am talking about. Notice how things look and feel different depending on where you are. And then when you get stuck, you will be able to try moving to a different space to change your perspective and get back on track.

Plus tôt cette semaine, nous avons fait faire des travaux dans notre cour arrière par un paysagiste, avec qui nous faisons affaire depuis plus d’une dizaine d’années.

Après le départ des ouvriers, j’ai regardé les arbustes qu’ils venaient de planter, et pour un instant ou deux, j’étais un peu déçu par la petite taille de celles-ci.

Mais avec un peu de réflection, je me suis mis à sourire, en pensant que l’important soit fait: leur plantation. Pour le reste, il ne fallait que de la patience.

C’est important de faire preuve de patience dans plusieurs domaines, et aussi d’adopter une attitude positive, tout en développant notre capacité pour la gratification différée.

Mais la patience, l’attitude, et nos capacités d’attendre des récompenses ne sont pas suffisantes dans la plupart des cas.

Tout comme le paysagiste, qui avait fait le travail (et qui j’ai payé pour le faire), de planter ces nouvelles plantes, il est important de ne pas négliger qu’un certain effort est souvent nécessaire avant de pouvoir attendre patiemment.

Dans une famille en affaires, les parents qui font simplement attendre que leur enfant soit assez vieux pour venir travailler dans la compagnie, sans avoir pris le temps de l’éduquer et de lui préparer, seront sans doute déçus.

De l’autre côté de cette même médaille, le jeune qui s’attend à avoir un emploi, simplement parce qu’il fait partie de la famille, sans faire l’effort pour se faire éduquer et de se préparer pour ses fonctions, risque aussi la déception.

Quand viendra le temps de penser aux questions de succession de la compagnie, et/ou au transfert de l’entreprise à la futur génération, le travail de préparation devient encore plus important que la simple patience.

Si nous voulons une belle haie mature dans cinq ans, c’est aujourd’hui qu’il faut y penser. Ce n’est pas simplement en continuant dans les mêmes fonctions que nous allons éventuellement avoir développé les capacités de leadership et les structures de communications qu’il faudra.

Trop souvent la famille concentre ses efforts sur le côté de la “business” en croyant que toutes les questions du côté “famille” se règleront toutes seules. Ou, ils se disent qu’ils auront le temps d’y penser “plus tard”.

Si vous lisez ces lignes et vous reconnaissez des membres de votre famille, dites-vous que vous êtes loin d’être tout seul.

Mais dites-vous aussi que la patience ne règlera probablement pas la situation toute seule. Vous ne voyez peut-être pas les efforts que vous pouvez mettre immédiatement, mais laissez-moi vous donner quelques indices.

Pour moi le mot le plus important dans l’expression “entreprise familiale”, ce n’est pas “entreprise”, mais plutôt “familiale”. Quand on parle de famille, c’est parce que ce n’est pas simplement une personne, mais plusieurs.

“Ah oui,” je vous entend déjà, “mais chez nous, il y a vraiment seulement une personne qui prend toutes les décisions”.

Mais cette personne, (plus souvent qu’autrement c’est Papa), ne sera pas toujours là, et la famille a l’obligation de se préparer pour l’avenir. Oui, ça prend un effort, mais sans effort, la patience ne suffira pas.

Plusieurs personnes ça veut aussi dire plusieurs liens, et les liens peuvent devenir plus forts et plus serrés avec plus de communication. Parlez-vous des défis de la famille dans 5 ou 10 ans, dans divers scénarios.

Commencez à penser comment vous aller travailler ensemble quand Papa ne sera plus là. N’oubliez pas de parler avec Papa aussi! Il risque de ne pas vouloir en parler avec vous au début, mais s’il devient au courant de vos discussions entre vous, éventuellement il pourrait s’intéresser à vos pensées!

Attendre avec patience, même avec ses doigts croisés, ne donne pas souvent les résultats voulus. Mais avec un peu de travail, d’effort, de communication, de partage d’idées et de pensées, les chances que la patience soit récompensée sont beaucoup plus élevées.