Embrace different career choices
First off, never assume that a child is going to take over when the parents or elder generation retires. After all, there’s no guarantee someone will have the same enthusiasm for a company that her grandfather began a century ago. Which is why, Davis says, parents should never push their kids into working for the business or inheriting the main office.
“The conversation has to start with the kids, and it has to be something that they’re passionate about,” Davis says. “It can’t come from parents as something they’re imposing on children.” That approach could lead to daily backlash or resentment that builds over decades. “People need to pursue their natural course. If it’s not their natural course, it’s not what they should be doing.”
And, if you allow the kids and grandkids to pursue their own interests, they may well find that their path leads back to the family business, no coaxing necessary.
Brian Nicholson, president and CEO of Red Jacket Orchards, certainly didn’t believe that the Geneva, NY, fruit-growing business that his father, Joe, inherited from his own parents would be part of his destiny. “I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Brian says of his undergraduate years at college, “but I was 100% sure that I was never ever going back to the family business — and as a sophomore I told my dad that.”