Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Is shared ownership the answer for your family farm?

A few weeks back our family was at grandpa's farm taking some family pictures.  As we were there we were experimenting on a couple of different shots.  This one is of Jhett and Libby on our little John Deere 790.  Our cameraman, Colt Warren caught this picture and I think it tells a great story. 

#1- Everyone loves the family tractor- Whether you are in farming or in some other family business, many people have fond feelings towards the family business or at least parts of it.  Just because everyone loves it doesn't mean that sharing it will be a good idea.  

Example- One family I work with has a family cabin on a beautiful lake.  They all agree that they have many great memories there.  Because of this mom and dad have planned to give it to their kids as a shared ownership asset.  Seems like a good idea at first until the next generation has to begin paying property taxes, maintenance costs and then sharing decision making over house upgrades, scheduling the use of the property etc.  What was once an asset that represented fun and family has now become something that will probably drive a wedge between them.

#2- Who gets to drive, who gets to ride and who has to watch?- This picture illustrates that Libby was interested in being in control.  She didn't want Jhett to ride.  In family business there is a need for clarity regarding who will control the assets and have ultimate say with business decisions.  

Please don't misunderstand, shared ownership can be a wonderful thing.  It can lead to business success and even deepen personal relationships if done right.  However, it should not be assumed that things will just work out well.  There need to be plans in place, structures created, and expectations established for owners, managers and employees.  

If you'd like to learn more about the challenges and opportunities with shared ownership, you should plan on buying my book.  It's called, "The Farm Whisperer" and is coming out very soon.  

Send an e-mail to if you'd like to be notified when it comes out.  

Dave Specht

No comments:

Post a Comment