Transferring a business to a family member

Family succession: clarify your future involvement


One of the hardest things to do in business is to step down. It can be particularly hard if your business is a family one you have been running for years.

You can make things easier for yourself if you:

  • clearly determine any future role you may have in the business
  • accept that you're no longer in charge - though your advice and support will be invaluable, your successor may have ideas very different from your own
  • plan other activities to continue to lead a fulfilling life after you leave the business

It can, though, still be hard not to interfere in the business if you are financially dependent on its success. If you're retiring, you may find it easier to take a step back if you have personal pension arrangements that are separate from the business.

Another way of achieving this distance is by arranging a family management buyout, in which family members - either alone or with outside help - finance a buyout of your shareholding.

Remember, it's very important your successor is allowed to assume their role freely. If they can't, they're likely to become frustrated and the business may suffer. It can help if you remember that change is often necessary for a business to develop successfully.