What’s Your Plan?

Coaching-wordsA family business has many benefits, but family dynamics can also present unique challenges.  I am watching two family businesses at the moment. Both have amassed great success.

Company A operates without the leadership of any founding family members; they partake in other more relaxed endeavors including philanthropy and other non-profit causes.

Meanwhile, the founding family members of Company B forge ahead in the daily operations and too often find themselves in dialogue about minor operational costs during strategy meetings.

Interested in the dynamics of both of these successful companies, I investigated them both. How is it that the owners of one company can relax and enjoy the benefits of their labor that will carry on for generations to come, while the other continues to hang on for every decision that is made?

It could be argued that the family of Company B loves the business and has a desire to remain involved while the other not as much. From a distance, I’d tend to agree. However, the first company owner loved his product. In fact, his passion for it is the reason he and his family created a business around it. So what was the difference?


Both companies have a vision and mission along with long-term goals. But the fundamental difference, I believe, is vision, leadership and succession planning.

Company A’s owner realized that to succeed in an ever-changing economy he needed a vision for the future and a succession plan: a process for identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company. He then had to be willing to release the vision to those competent leaders.

Company B has a vision as well, but the succession planning may be lost or non-existent. Why? Because the originating founders are still there, acting in the daily operations. Can it succeed? Yes, it is succeeding. Can the owners go off and do other things – not so much! Growth is limited and longevity uncertain. One possible choice in moving onto a more relaxed lifestyle for Company B could be a buyout, but the legacy of the vision may not continue as they originally created or hoped.

Company A’s vision is intact; the founders’ names still reign throughout the organization and the essence of their dream lives on without their physical presence. They’re reaping the benefits of their dream and making a difference along the way. They employ great people and never have to work again.

Company B’s founders are still working, but perhaps the day will come when succession planning will be a part of their strategic planning meeting. Until then, it’s a family working hard until, well, they are not!

How well have you planned for the future of your business? Is there a succession plan or will it simply fizzle when you’re gone?


Lisa Thomas is the CEO of The P3 Group, Inc. and The P3 Group International, LLC, publisher of The P3 Power Boost Online Magazine, host of The P3 Power Boost Radio Show, and President of the Board of Directors of NetWorth. She is a 20-year veteran in business, executive leadership and performance coaching/consulting. She has worked extensive with corporate call centers, executives and small business enterprises. She’s been a featured columnist and business strategist on Affiliate NPR, WFDD, The Cary News, Fox 8 and numerous NBC affiliate stations.

Lisa is best known for her business and leadership acumen and is widely recognized her ability to develop leaders to be more effective. Lisa is also a sought after keynote speaker on various topics women in leadership face. She generously donates her time and expertise to a number of organizations and worthy causes, including NetWorth, the Business Succession Forum Network, and the Hazel B. Neal Foundation, for which she recently was recognized with the woman of Power, Purpose and Vision award. In her downtime, she can be found practicing yoga, cycling, swimming, reading a good book or spending time with family and friends.

Lisa Thomas
CEO/Sr. Business Strategist
The P3 Group, Inc.



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