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Millennials in family business 3 tips for dealing with Millennials in family businesses

As baby boomers are retiring at a high pace, topics about succession surge within the field of family business literature & science. Numerous publications explain how to succeed successfully, but they often leave out a crucial question: rather than how to succeed, we should ask who will succeed. The annual Belgian Family Business Day has put the finger on it: are Millennials willing to take the driver’s seat when the baby boomers retire?

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: The question is not how to succeed, but who will succeed #familybusiness insit.es/ZMsAce by @TomLibbrecht via @CoolBrands #millennials

Yes, they sure are! Research by the Belgian Family Firm Institute (IFB) amongst Belgian economic master students checked the attractiveness of the family business as a future workplace. After graduating, most of them want to start in a big company, preferably non-family-owned.

One third of the interviewed students came from a business-owning family. Half of them wants to have a role in the family company within 10 years after graduating; they are encouraged by the idea of being their own boss. 17% of these students even wants to start in the family business immediately after graduating. Collective relief so far: Millennials are prepared to succeed!

Joeri Van den Bergh (co-author of How Cool Brands Stay Hot) was one of keynote speakers at the Belgian Family Business Day and he showed us that family businesses have promising times ahead: Gen Y is a consumer-aware, optimistic generation which uses the digital efficiency to work at a high and challenging pace. They easily spot competitors and disruptive market trends which impact their offline and online business model. As they are ambitiously aiming for the top, they face challenges along the road. Research shows their greatest fears are leadership, business strategy and a lack of technical knowledge. Being extremely connected, they can use their network and technology skills to deal with it.

Joeri Van den Bergh at annual Belgian Family Business Day

However, baby boomers are not eager to say goodbye to their beloved power and the corresponding status. Furthermore, strong individual empowerment and co-creation is required to keep on pushing the young stimulation junkies in their growth.

3 recommendations supporting a fluent hand-over to Millennials:

  1. Create variation to increase their enthusiasm. No need for multi-tasking, but do try to give them stimulating (short-term) perspectives within their path towards their next role.
  2. Be transparent about succession. It lowers tensions and ensures a higher chance for interest. At this point, 1 out of 3 youngsters is still not aware when and how hand-over will happen.
  3. Open up to refreshing and innovative ideas. It will create trust and can bring new opportunities for family businesses by turning blind spots into new strengths.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: 3 tips supporting a fluent hand-over to #millennials #familybusiness insit.es/ZMsAceby @TomLibbrecht via @CoolBrands

The generation gap ahead will bring challenging times for all. Fortunately, Millennials are in for mentoring and coaching. They also see mum and dad as their role models, which helps in respecting the family business values. Freedom will come with gratitude.

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One Response to “3 tips for dealing with Millennials in family businesses”

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