If the founder of a business is interested in making sure his life’s work continues for many generations down the line, he needs to focus on mentoring the next generation early on, in addition to creating successful products or services. (When I say “next generation,” I mean the next generation of owners and associates.) In my experience, many founders do not take the time to teach the next generation what I call “The essence of the business.” In fact, the next generation frequently has different attitudes and opinions about the business than the founder — and these differences need to be discussed and dealt with before younger family members are put in charge. This is a topic of extreme delicacy, and many businesses fail in the process of making a transition because the founder hasn’t been clear about his vision for the future. If conversations aren’t held about the founder’s expectations and values, and transition plans aren’t put in place while he is still able to coach and nurture younger family members, chances are those left behind won’t really understand the critical factors that have made the business successful — and they won’t care for the business the way the founder does, either. Do the key members of your next generation understand why customers buy your products or services? Do they care about each and every detail like you do? Have you started the conversation? If you haven’t, today is a good day to take that important step.