Succession within family businesses is not a new phenomenon. For decades, the continuity of SMEs has relied on a competent next generation. While in the past, succession mainly occurred through sons or daughters, nowadays it is not always the automatic choice. Both owners and their children ask themselves questions like “Can I (or my child) do it?” and “Do I (he/she) want to do it?” It is a healthy development.

About two decades ago, the concept of the Management Buy-In emerged. Entrepreneurial managers who desired to take the helm of a business, where they could obtain ownership alongside the ultimate responsibility. The benefits and the burdens. Initially, this approach was met with skepticism, but now this takeover option is a serious and welcome alternative when there is no ready-to-take-over son or daughter.

A crisis often leads to reflection and prompts entrepreneurs to think. The COVID-19 crisis, in particular, has made business owners realize that life is sometimes less predictable and controllable than they thought. Such a period of reflection accelerates a valuable process. What does the future of my company look like? And what is my role in it? Entrepreneurs often underestimate the complexities of a successful business transfer. Strong emotions often cause this process to be delayed. As a result, entrepreneurs often start this journey too late, with all possible adverse consequences.

When family succession is not an option, a Management Buy-In becomes a logical, often desirable, and sometimes necessary consideration. The availability, expertise, and motivation of Buy-In managers have only increased over the years. Qualified senior professionals are ready to take over the reins within a (SME) family business. If the existing management is willing to remain involved for a few more years, this makes a (gradual) takeover highly feasible and realistic. This instills more confidence in banks regarding the business’s continuity, making them more willing to finance such transactions.

Therefore, I would like to say to all involved parties: “Never waste a good crisis!”

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