To sell or to keep? … that’s a tough question

This is a question that all family businesses eventually have to face … and it’s not easy to answer.

Unlike regular businesses, there’s so much emotion tied up in a family business or a family farm. It’s almost literally part of the family, which adds a sentimental twist.

To be frank, selling is the easy part – and yet it’s still gut-wrenching. You have to find the right buyer – this could be another business or perhaps a private equity group.

You need to get the business ready for sale, do the negotiation and then say goodbye to your precious business. And this is the easy option.

If you’re not into selling – then you’re into building a legacy. Which not only takes time, effort and honesty … it also needs a plan, structure and succession strategies.

You’re going to have to think forward about what you want to happen. Negotiate with the family about what level of involvement they want in terms of ownership.

Then write a Family Charter, manage your (potential) Founder’s Syndrome and line-up the next generation of leaders for your business.

It is not all hard work! The process is exciting, rich and extraordinary … but it does mean you need to start having a number of important and frank conversations.

For various reasons, families often decide to sell. Sometimes no one in the family wants to take it over. (This happened in our founder Philip Pryor’s family.)

Sometimes no one is skilled enough or sometimes the family just wants to move on. In terms of selling, family businesses are often of great interest to private equity.

Be careful who you choose to sell to because there are some horror stories out there. And once your family business is sold, it’s no longer yours.

However, if family and family legacy are important to you, especially if you’re on the land, selling is an extremely hard decision to make.

You need to take your time and have lots of conversations with the family and trusted advisers.

If you decide to keep the business, then there are wonderful opportunities on offer for you and your family, even if it means a lot of hard work.

If the decision to sell or to keep is just too overwhelming, talk to us. We know this space well and can help you make the decision that is right for you and your family.