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Governing families that share a business, a balance sheet and wealth can be complex to navigate

If you are a founder of Generation two or three (G2/G3) of a successful family business, you already know this. Chances are you wrestle with it on a daily basis. Complexity will come as no surprise. What might come as a surprise is that there is a theorem that breaks this complexity down.














Family business can’t avoid this complexity, but you can understand it and nullify most of its jagged edges.

And if you don’t, failure is the most likely outcome. There is a reason that multiple cultures from every corner of the world talk of the curse of family business – rags to riches and back again in three generations. But failing to address this complexity is not just a waste of financial wealth and legacy there is severe human cost.

It can be heartbreaking to sit with a founding couple who have successfully built a business of significant value and have them describe the dysfunction in their family and business. How they can no longer gather as a family or how one sibling can no longer cooperate with another. I have lost count of the number of times a parent has become emotional. broken down in tears or I’ve heard many versions of, ‘This is not worth it. If we’d have known that it was going to come to this, we’d never have started the business in the first place.’ It is uncomfortable and no doubt worse to experience. Each believes their situation is unusual and therefore questions whether they have failed in some way. If only they could understand that families collectively governing wealth, whether a business or a balance sheet, is a near impossible challenge. It’s just not possible for it to work the way we think or assume it’s going to work or should work. The complexities make that impossible without governance and stewardship.

Every successful family business meets the same challenges eventually and they must be addressed eventually otherwise rags to riches and back again becomes almost inevitable.

The four voices advisory is a dedicated to helping family enterprise manage love, loyalty and family wealth successfully generation after generation.

What we have found is that so many of the persistent, unique and universally experienced problems that only emerge in family business can be solved by a willingness and determination to allow four distinct voices to be heard:

The business (or balance sheet) must have a voice (achieved by the strategic plan).

The individuals (founder and family members) must have individual voices (achieved by the personal plans).

The family must have a collective voice (achieved by the Family Charter).

The family community (spouses and generations that follow) must have a voice (achieved by the Family Retreat).