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In a family business, the word “succession” is often followed by the word “plan.” The idea is that handing off the business is mostly about clarifying the goals, timeline and activities that will result in a successful transition.

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What happens when there are no heirs to receive the land or no children to receive the senior generation’s values? I believe the senior generation still has something to offer, although the asset transition strategy is different, and recipients of one’s values include a broader group of people. 

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In society today, compromise has a mostly negative connotation, suggesting one party has either given up or given in. In my experience, however, compromise is usually the best way to go.

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The family agricultural business, in the context of this history, exerts a type of gravitational pull on family members, intertwining them through asset ownership and emotional attachment to the vision and sacrifice of their ancestors.

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The idea of profitability can be useful in thinking about the resources beyond the fiscal “bottom line” of a family-owned enterprise. A family business requires investments beyond dollars to operate successfully; the return on these investments provides the sustenance and incentive to continue the business.