Family Business

Question: A relative wants me to take over the family business. What are some considerations I should be aware of?

Answer: When a relative asks another to take over the family business, this means they have great trust in the person’s ability to do so. The original business owner may have certain ways they handle the business. Often, people would rather these things not be changed too much.

Entrusting operations to a family member can be helpful in this and other ways.

Remember that this isn’t just a family exchange. Treat it seriously, as you would any business transaction. Business is a big responsibility. If at any time you feel like you’re the wrong person for the job, don’t be afraid to say so. Otherwise, move forward, gaining as much knowledge as you can along the way.

Think about how your relative runs the business currently. If things are going smoothly, you may not want to change very much. On the other hand, if the business is in trouble and your relative is asking for help, change can be good. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The last thing you want to do is upset the person whose business you’re taking over — especially a relative. You’ll need their advice and information. You also don’t need a family member upset.

Some important things you should ask about include tax information and past returns, business accounts, employee records, accounting methods, and current vendors (if applicable). Your relative should go over details on running the business with you. If you’re unsure about anything, speak up. Consider not only the customer experience but the employee experience, as well as how your relative feels about everything.

There is no such thing as being too prepared or asking too many questions.

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