There are clearly two schools of thought when it comes to the next generation entering the family firm, entering at a more senior level in a management position or starting out at the bottom and working the way up.

As far as I can see there are some great, and not so great, examples of both and it reinforces for me the need to understand the business, what skills are required for various roles, and above all, what the next generation actually want to do with their lives.

Too many take the family business route because they are not clear what it is they actually want to do, whereas others start out without the skills and competencies for the role they are actually given.

The next gen have lots of opportunities and need to determine what their future looks like, be honest about what they want to do and what they have the actual ability to do and then choose a path accordingly.  Too much time is spent on the two paths and more time needs to be given to actually understanding the needs of the business now and going forward, assessing the knowledge gaps and planning to mitigate them, and in allowing the next generation the scope to decide the right way forward for themselves.

Open and honest conversations are needed from all concerned and the future needs of the business have to be placed front and foremost.