Seven generations: culturally sensitive succession-planning

Posted on June 30, 2024 | By Ashley Fitzpatrick | 0 Comments


LEFT: A tiny cabin peaks out from the woods on the La Belle Cabane property in New Brunswick. (Submitted photo)
RIGHT: The owners in their element at La Belle Cabane (Photo: Shannon Park Photography)

It’s never quick nor easy when a business changes hands.

Even the most seamless transitions require expert advisors, tax planning, financial management, risk assessment, corporate valuation, skilful negotiation, clear communications—and time. Lots and lots of time. For Indigenous business owners, the process is even more complex.

Making a start

Based in Saint John, N.B., Kayla Johnson has helped many Indigenous-owned enterprises. Johnson has roots in Tobique First Nation, also known as Neqotkuk, one of six Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet Nation) reserves. Through her consultancy, Kayla & Co., she has crafted numerous business plans, including for major transitions like a change in ownership.

“One thing I’ve noticed is there’s no real trend in exit plans,” she said—other than that most business owners don’t have one. Her first and best advice? It’s never too early to start planning.

With the luxury of time, she suggested, you can casually connect with peers through business associations or the Joint Economic Development Initiative in New Brunswick, which has an Indigenous business directory. She also said you can—and should—consult with certified financial advisors, lawyers and tax advisors who are familiar with the cultural value and responsibilities of your business.

Said Johnson about Indigenous founders: “A lot of their services and products come from teachings that they’ve learned from their elders, from their family, their aunts and uncles. So that is the identity of the business. To pass that on, if they’re going to sell, really there’s a very specific person who can continue on with their products and service.”


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