Family-Owned Businesses

Daughter Successors

Fifty years ago, it was very rare to have a daughter take over the family business. These days, it's a commonplace occurrence.

More often than not, family businesses are handed over to sons rather than daughters.

Daughter Successors

But there is a lot of evidence pointing toward a rising trend of daughter successors. Is your business prepared for daughter to take the helm when the time comes to pass the torch?

Here's what the numbers say: In the next five years, 39% of U.S. family businesses will make the transition to the next generation. Although currently less than 10% of family businesses have female successors, 34% indicate the business' next leader may be a woman.

In other words, over the next five years daughter successors will make a big splash on the family business scene.

Even though a lot people will say it's about time daughters are recognized for the business skills and leadership ability, many family businesses and daughters themselves are not adequately prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. No matter how far off your company's leadership transition may be, the time to begin preparing for a daughter succession is right now.

No Special Treatment

Above all else, it's important to treat a daughter successor the same way you would treat a son who is being groomed to take over the company. This may be awkward, especially if your company is located in a male-dominated industry like construction.

However, if your daughter is going to run the operation she needs to be familiar with the ins and outs of the business, and demonstrate a willingness to exert leadership in your male-dominated world. Invite your daughter with you when you go into the field and give her room to make her own mistakes.

Planning & Communication

When daughters take the reins of a family business, it is often perceived as a response to a crisis or a lack of other viable successors. That's unfortunate because daughter successions are usually planned events that just haven't been adequately communicated throughout the organization.

For your daughter to succeed as the leader of your business, it is imperative to clearly communicate your confidence that she is the best person for the job - to do it far in advance of the day you fade off into the sunset.


Your organization will probably experience transition turmoil if your daughter suddenly appears out of nowhere to assume a leadership role in the business. The best transitions are the natural culmination of increasing responsibility and visibility within the company. Start integrating your daughter into the company as soon as possible, and make every effort to help her become a highly visible and irreplaceable asset.

Family Issues

Daughter successions necessitate some special handling in the area of family issues. Hopefully a long-term succession plan will give your daughter enough time to coordinate family planning and child-rearing issues before she steps into her role as CEO. Likewise, the dynamics involved with a daughter successor may cause some unique issues to surface among other siblings. Even though you can't plan ahead for every family-related contingency, you should be prepared to respond these issues if they arise.

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