A new nationwide research study on family businesses commissioned by Seattle-based Laird Norton Co., a diversified financial concern, shows that overwhelming optimism of the owners of family businesses about their future might prove to be premature because of a lack of strategic vision, succession planning and governance policies.The survey showed that nearly 60 percent of majority shareowners in family businesses are 55 or older, while 30 percent are 65 or older. However, less than 30 percent of those respondents even have succession plans in place, and fewer than 40 percent have a successor lined up.

In addition, the survey reported that 93 percent of family business leaders said that they had little to no diversified income sources, and that they generate the majority of the family's income from the business itself.

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