Ever heard the old adage, “One to start it, one to grow it, one to lose it”? We’re guessing it was meant to represent the generations of a family business.
Normally “succession planning” means having a buy-in (or maybe a buy-out, sweat equity, inheriting or whatever) plan. But along with the plan comes the hard part -- the part where, like it or not, we must accept that our successors will do things differently than we did.
They’ll have new ideas and want to try new things.(gasp!) My father-in-law had different ideas about how to farm than his father, as did my husband from his dad, and now it’s our son’s turn to vex us. (Paybacks, eh?)
How we achieve the goal of handing off the family business -- no matter what kind of business it is -- is part of the equation.
Dude’s Steakhouse and Branding Iron Bar in Sidney, Neb., was opened by Dude and Florence Julinek in 1952. Fast forward 65 years -- yes, you read that right – Sixty. Five. YEARS in business, run by the same family. That’s a danged impressive feat.
Now Sarah and Joey, and Jenni (Joey's sister)the third generation, run Dude’s.
We had the pleasure of visiting with them on a stay-over in Sidney a while back. While they freely admit it hasn’t always been easy, they also acknowledge that taking over the legacy and putting their own touches on it has been rewarding.
(Read more about Dudes here)
During our visit, we talked about their school-age children, and if those children were poised to take over from Sarah and Joey. Their answer? “Time will tell...”
They want their children to “want it” when they’re old enough, and not take over because they think they “have to.” Want to vs. have to -- that’s another part of graciously handing over the reins
What IF kiddos don’t want it? Or if they’re only doing it because they feel obligated? Will resentment build because they feel forced to follow your path instead their own stars?
In a small community the decision may be even harder.
The pressure is on, because no one wants to disappoint the people who depend on that business to continue to be there -- all the people who watched you grow up working in that business.
Which brings us back to the point -- succession means different things to different people. Perhaps Sarah’s and Joey’s children may have different ideas of what works for them and for Dude’s. Maybe they’ll decide it means only being open for dinners. And who knows? That may work for them.
Spelling aside, “succession” and “success” are two different words. Just because one buys into or inherits the family business, there’s no guarantee of continued success.
When we hand off “our baby” that we nurtured and watched grow through trials and triumphs, it’s hard to step back. It’s hard to relinquish control, to not dictate or say “we’ve always done it like that.”
And it’s doubly hard to not step on toes as our successors make their own mistakes and learn from them. We made our own mistakes and they need to make theirs, no matter how much we’d like to save them from the experience.
Each generation has its own idea of what will work and what won’t, and how to achieve their goals. And it’s up to us -- the ones handing off -- to accept that there will be changes.
We may not like them any more than our folks liked ours, but accept them we must. After all, those changes may be what stops the next one from “losing it.”
~Katy and Annette~
**This article will appear in an upcoming AGWEEK Magazine. - On a personal note- My husband and I LOVE this place. The history, the vibe, the incredible food. Dudes truly embraces the spirit of the west.
Annette & Kate
If it involves small towns, rural, business or people, we write about it. Both the good and the bad. Part of our passion is helping you be the best you can be.