Succession planning can be a BIG issue for many family firms, but when it comes to the farming community you could argue that there is much more at stake for the wider future of agriculture so when should the conversations begin?
In this piece Lincoln Ellis is only a one year old but has already had a taste of life on the farm!! In reality, parents find it hard to talk about their own 'departure from the planet' so tend to put things off and are scared of bringing up the 'elephant in the room' that is succession. However, as this piece shows, kids pick up on things from a very young age, for good and for bad, and form their own views on the family business, whether they want to be part of it and how they would shape things going forward.
In a many family firms, bringing up the topic is the hardest challenge because once in the public domain, everyone has a view.
Clear, open and honest dialogue is essential and when it comes to succession, it can never really be too early to talk about it, but sadly, in a good many cases, if can be too late....
Simon Ellis says that while it’s still far too early to know if his son or any future siblings will be interested in farming, he is working to be prepared for all possibilities. But he believes it’s also important that kids have the opportunity to explore life off the farm before deciding to commit to agriculture. “As he gets that experience and knowledge, and then gets to the age where he wants to start making decisions he’ll have that information for himself to be able to decide whether he wants to farm or not,” says Ellis. “Hopefully he would decide to come back to the farm, but we certainly don’t want to pressure him to come back because it’s not an easy business to be in.”