Susan Lazar Consulting, Inc.
Family Business Consulting and Succession Planning

Family Business Consulting and Succession Planning

Family businesses face a double challenge. There is a business to run and family dynamics to manage.  When these areas overlap, issues can quickly get complicated.

Families in business together must agree on business direction, management of personnel, and financial issues such as investment, revenue goals and profit.  They must do this while navigating the complexity of family history, interpersonal relationships, power needs and differences in commitment and skill levels.  The challenge is so great that most family businesses don’t succeed past the first generation.

And without resolution of personal issues associated with communications, competence, training, experience, risk, control and self-worth, even the best business succession plans will not succeed.

By facing and resolving conflicts, communicating effectively, and planning for the future, most family-owned and closely held businesses cansuccessfully transfer ownership to the next generation of leaders.

Susan Lazar Consulting, Inc. helps individuals, families, and their businesses address and resolve non-productive issues, build on their strengths to resolve differences, work together effectively and plan for a successful future.  We provide services directed at managing the unique challenges of leadership, continuity and succession planning.

These include:

  • Talking to each other effectively
  • Exploring options
  • Clarifying expectations, roles and responsibilities
  • Developing leaders, including non-family members
  • Managing and resolving conflict
  • Making sound decisions

Acting with commitment on those decisions

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Sample Client Successes:

Family Business Consulting

Client: Full-service bank with multiple locations in six mid-western states

Challenge: A large part of the bank’s customer and prospect base is family owned businesses. The bank recognizes that successors, potential successors and leaders in family businesses face unique challenges. Bankers working with families who are in business face another set of unique challenges.


  • Create and facilitate a series of two hour interactive forums for successors and leaders in family owned businesses.
  • Create and facilitate a series of two hour interactive meetings for bankers.
  • Topics:
    • Communicating effectively
    • Managing conflict
    • Becoming a leader
    • Challenges to successful succession
    • Developing a vision for you and your business


  • As part of the bank’s commitment to ensuring the over-all business health of their customers.
  • To educate bankers about the complexity of the relationships when families are in business together.
  • To enhance bankers’ roles as professional advisors without challenging the authority of the family/business leadership.


  • Participants completed extremely favorable evaluations of all sessions.
  • Participants have expressed a desire to continue the forums and the training.

Succession Planning

Client: Major construction company owned by unrelated partners.

Challenge: Current leaders are approaching retirement age and senior managers are concerned that there is no time frame and no plan for the transition of leadership. There is neither an identified successor nor a process for identifying and developing the next company leader.


  • Clarify the succession process, identify a future leader and develop and implement succession plans for ownership and management.
  • Create and implement a leadership development plan for future leaders.
  • Clarification of roles and responsibilities and team building.
  • Assess skills, interest and abilities of potential leaders.
  • Retirement coaching for the senior generation.


  • The younger generation is chafing to take over and the older generation, although near retirement age, won’t give up the reins.
  • To ensure that the younger generation has fully developed skills and experience.
  • To reduce confusion about responsibilities and accountabilities and promote smooth functioning of the management group.
  • To identify the future leader of the business.
  • To define roles for the senior generation going forward.
  • To reduce the likelihood of interference by the senior generation after transition.


  • A successor is identified.
  • The current leader is committed to a succession schedule.
  • The leader and successor are able to communicate clearly and clarify expectations of themselves, each other and the business.