A couple felt the time was right to look at their future and the next phase of their life. They were looking to reduce their involvement in the family business.
Identifying the Problem
In order to find the right solutions, we first needed to clearly define the problem. Part of that process is asking the tough questions, such as:
What are the time frames for them taking less responsibility in the business?
Who will take on the increasing complexity that it demands?
One of the children wants to pursue farming, but how should they treat their other children equitably?
Can they provide opportunities for the children without compromising their own financial security?
Do they want to stay on the farm or move from the property? Will they be a help or a hindrance if they stay at home?
What is the opportunity to grow the profitability and/or expand the business?
How do they start the conversation with the children? Is it before they know how to structure any opportunities? Should the children play a role in the decision-making process of any restructure?
Talking to Peer Review helped this couple to understand their own aspirations and to form realistic time frames to achieve their goals. This gave them a good lead to start a family discussion.
Approaching the discussion without all of the answers wasn’t a big threat - there was no obligation to ‘pass any legislation’ unless they were happy that all of their concerns were covered.
Initially, the couple had concerns about sharing the Financial Performance and Balance Sheet numbers. Through discussions with us, they came to realise that producing the figures to their children was not about being judged but empowering their children with the information that they needed to help them make sound plans for their combined futures.
Using an independent facilitator took the pressure off the parents and created an environment for open discussion, free of emotion, where all parties could express their concerns, be listened to and positive outcomes negotiated.
Underlying tensions within the family were identified and acknowledged, which included ways to use surplus funds e.g. repaying debt, expanding the business, releasing funds for an off-farm venture.
Tabling their ideas and putting structure around the necessary change process so they could start to progress their exit from the business was a huge relief for the couple. It gave them resolve to start talking to their children with a sense of confidence and purpose.
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