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Inheriting a business: how to make it a success

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Inheriting a business: how to make it a success

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Every year in Europe, 600,000 jobs are lost simply because entrepreneurs don’t prepare their company’s transition properly.
 
Making sure company hand-overs take place smoothly is an integral part of Finland’s business culture.
 
Forty-year old Oliwer Campbell runs a company selling office equipment.
 
Founded by his grandfather in 1933, it was taken over by his father 20 years ago, before Oliwer himself became the boss two years ago.
 
Even though he has been working in the family-run business all his life, the transition, with its heavy load of responsibilities, was a real challenge for Oliwer.
 
“The emotional part is probably the strongest challenge you face. But once you overcome that, you become much stronger as a person as well, and that’s a big help,” says Oliwer Campbell, CEO of Bruce Campbell Ltd.
 
The transition was smooth and successful: turnover has doubled in the past decade and some twenty jobs have been created.
 
Oliwer was well-prepared: he took no less than ten courses on management strategy in the three years preceding his take over.
 
“It helped a lot. Because sharing these thoughts, and ideas, and questions, and getting answers to them, and knowing that you’re not alone… Having family businesses that are looking into giving over the business to the next generation is something that touches everyone,” says Oliwer Campbell.
 
“It’s also about networking. Getting to know people, maybe you can do business in between, and getting life-long friends that you know you have the support from,” he adds.
 
Oliwer also turned to an organisation which brings together 400 family-run businesses from across Finland.
 
It offers programs to help future firm owners face not only the cost of taking over a business but also have the right attitude.
 
Krista Elo-Pärssinen, senior adviser at the Finnish Family Firms Association, explains what kind of advice they give:
 
“What is it like to run a family business, what is it like to work with personnel and other stakeholders, and how do you have a shape vision for the family business.”
 
For Oliwer Campbell, success is down to several factors:
 
“My keys to success are: make sure you know what you’re putting yourself into, don’t be afraid of asking questions from other people if you feel you need help and support, and make sure that within the family the sooner you start the transition the better.“