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Pruning the Tree

Pruning the Tree - Exit Strategy

As a tree grows, it is often helpful to prune some branches to make space for other branches to grow. As families grow generationally, “pruning” – allowing some family branches to exit – can be beneficial both to the main family group and to the group that chooses to exit.

As families grow, so does the diversity of family members. Managing the diverse needs and expectations becomes much harder. Unless the family business is always growing, it can be hard to support a growing number of owners. There can be ripples of discontent that can lead its members to seek escape. Also, you are never alone when it comes to engaging in conflict with other family members. Other family members are inevitably part of the mix.

Many large business families have a mechanism whereby a family member can leave the business and remain part of the family. Where such a mechanism doesn’t exist, an exit may require something as dramatic as selling the business. Because family businesses have emotional as well as financial value to the family, this can lead to regret and further discontent.

Simply having a mechanism for exit is of paramount importance. If not, family members can feel trapped.

A case in point was Megxit, where membership of the royal family is based on performance as a family member, so they could not just step back. There were no structures to internally manage change, adversity and conflict. Sadly, their only option was to leave completely.

Consider This: Does your family have an exit mechanism for family members? Are any family members involved out of a sense of obligation rather than because they choose to?

Here is more on reading on succession planning.

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