Hospice for a Family-Owned Business: A growing number of family businesses need hospice.
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The primary desire of family business advisors, like myself, is to see family-owned businesses live on for many generations. But some family businesses are beyond saving and want to die peacefully.

Those businesses need hospice.

Hospice is a service and philosophy of care for terminally ill patients. Hospice has four primary goals:

  1. Relieve the pain and suffering of the terminally ill;
  2. Make possible a “good” death;
  3. Help the family; and,
  4. Assist in the search for meaning.

While best known for helping a terminally ill person and their family, there’s a growing need to extend hospice to terminal family-owned businesses.


Terminal family businesses can be characterized as having one or more of the following situations:

  • The next generation has no interest in continuing the family business. Less than 40% of first to second generation hand-offs are successful. Less than 15% of second to third generation hand-offs survive.
  • The siblings of the next generation dislike one another, don’t talk to one another, don’t trust one another, refuse to work together, and/or refuse to define a unity strategy. I recommend Doug Box’s new book Texas Patriarch for an actual, first-hand account of what happens in a wealthy family that can’t get along with one another.
  • The business has outdated products and processes, serving a declining market and customer base, with little or no hope of change or improving. I’m not just talking about buggy whips. I’m talking about examples such as Uber grabbing the taxi market.
  • The family lacks the will, ability or initiative to turn around their bleedingbusiness and seek to sell the body to someone. Most family business owners have over 75% of their retirement money tied up in the business. They need a way to cash-out.

A hospice story

Certified family business advisors are trained and equipped to provide hospice-type services. Lisë Stewart, founder and president of Galliard Family Advisor Institute, recently shared a hospice-type story.

A third generation family member asked Lisë to go with him to meet with his grandfather and father. She asked “Why?” He replied, “I need your support when I tell them that I have no interest or intention of joining the family business.” That’s an example of family business hospice care.

Is your family business in need of hospice? I’m ready, willing and able.

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Tom Pryor
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