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Stop working IN your family business Start working ON your business family

by Steve Legler

Pub Date: July 4th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1460249659
Publisher: FriesenPress

In this short work, debut author Legler offers practical advice about transferring a family business to future generations.

The Canadian author was born into a family business and also married into one. As a result, he concentrates less on a standard building-a-business approach and more on the unique aspects of ownership, governance and continuance of such businesses. Although the acronym SHIFT is a bit contrived, it allows Legler to anchor the guide around five specific areas in successive chapters: “Start” looks at how to begin a conversation about the future of a business; “Help” considers different types of advisers; “Invest” generally addresses the time and money it takes to operate a business; “Flexible” suggests that no single approach is right for everyone; and “Talk” emphasizes the importance of open communication. Two additional chapters look at how to govern a business through a family council and how to establish an office to manage wealth. The information that the author provides does have value, but it’s sketchy at best and occasionally rambling and repetitive. Legler offers his observations and opinions but few references to other works and no case studies or examples; the book is a scant 58 pages, including resources. Still, the author’s counsel, clearly based on experience, could prove helpful, as when he observes that “[p]hilanthropy can play another great role in a family business: finding a cause that gives the senior generations something to do after retirement.” Also, some of these pearls of wisdom will surely resonate with its target audience: “Family businesses are inherently complex because families are all about love and business is all about profit. They do not always go well together.”

An abbreviated family-business overview that might have benefited from more in-depth treatment.