I was thinking about grandchildren and legacy. What statement an Owner might leave to future generations by his actions taken toward the end of his time running the family business. I've written two scenarios from the perspective of how an SMB Owner might be perceived by future generations.
Legacy A - Something to be proud of.
Our grandfather/great grandfather (your name here) was a successful businessman. While he grew a tremendous business to leave behind, he made sure his family and staff would be well taken care of.
Charity and good deeds were part of the fabric of the company and his life. Integrity was a basis for all negotiations, encounters and relationships.
He planned ahead and when his time to transition the company came, all was in order.
We are lucky to have the choices we do. To follow in his footsteps in business and in life. To live life to its fullest, give generously and appreciate our good fortune every day.
He left a legacy of wealth and example. We are the proud stewards of his legacy, and live by his example.
Legacy B - Not sure you'd be proud of this.
Our grandfather/great grandfather (your name here) was a successful businessman. He loved what he did and 'died with his boots on'. He couldn't see himself living any other way and never took the steps necessary to transition the company properly.
While we admire the passion, the series of events that happened after his sudden and unprepared for passing have devastated our family.
No one was trained to take over. Not family or other. The business started to falter the minute word got out that he was no longer running things. Customers got nervous, vendors demanded quicker payments and staff began to panic. No leader, or at least no capable, prepared true leader stepped up.
Competitors and Buyers began to circle the company like sharks smelling blood. Our grandmother/great grandmother didn't know what to do and chose to take the first offer that came along.
Some of our family, who worked in the business and a few long time employees were let go. The cash she received was nowhere near what our grandfather/great grandfather had assured her she would have to live on. Fortunately our family rallied and are taking care of her as family should.
As for future generations sharing in the success of a family business, we have all recognized that while it would have been nice to have some financial assistance for our lives and to leave for future generations as part of our own legacy we do not always get what we expect.
We will succeed on our own and ensure we don't make the same mistakes as our grandfather/great grandfather.
It's up to you to write the story.