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Family Enterprise Center addresses succession in new course

Standing at chalkboard in class is leadership and students of Family Enterprise Center at UNC Chapel Hill

Succession planning in a family business is one of the most difficult – and most important – issues for leaders to discuss.

The Family Enterprise Center at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School is offering a new online class for family business leaders to explore and analyze continuity challenges and common practices for successfully leading their enterprises.

Family Enterprise Center students cheering holding flag at UNC Kenan-Flagler 2019It is designed for family business leaders, non-family executives, business-owning families and future leaders. Multiple members of a family firm are encouraged to participate. Senior leaders can explore how transition means “going to” something new rather than about leaving their roles, while younger generations benefit from assessing how their personal goals and skills align with the purpose of the business.

The six-session course starts Oct. 2. Videos and readings are the basis of discussion for a series of live, 90-minute classes on Zoom with the professors and other family-business owners. Participants receive two 60-minute coaching sessions and join a small peer group to discuss and apply course topics.

Cooper Biersach and Stephen Miller of UNC Kenan-Flagler Family Enterprise CenterStephen Miller and Cooper Biersach (MBA ’96), the center’s founders and adjunct assistant professors, teach the class. They have worked with hundreds of families for over a decade, and based the online course on the Family Business Forum, which the center has offered for seven years.

“In this unique program, family-business owners can take time from the day-to-day management of their firms to build a strategy for the future with a thoughtful roadmap for succession,” says Biersach. “We emphasize building lines of open, transparent communication in the family, the creation of a shared vision for the business, and the alignment of family and business goals.”

Succession is almost always at the top of the list of concerns for family-business owners, says Miller.

“The thought of passing the leadership baton from one generation to the next, choosing the next leader from among family or non-family members, transferring ownership and preparing an estate plan is enough to stop the most decisive leaders in their tracks,” he says. “We often find highly successful entrepreneurs avoiding succession like the plague, but if they want their businesses to thrive through one or more generations of family ownership, they must engage in succession planning.”

The course draws upon Miller’s research on developing next-generation talent in family businesses. He focused on factors that influence the development of next-generation leaders. It is incorporated into course videos and discussions, leading to practical ways participants can apply the findings to support successful transition from one generation to the next.

The Family Enterprise Center is dedicated to providing next-generation family business leaders with the expertise and resources to develop entrepreneurial, sustainable family enterprises; to create and maintain healthy family and working relationships; and be responsible stewards of family business assets.

Registration ends Sept. 18, 2020. Click here for more information and to register.