Deciding how to transition from one generation to the next is crucial.
"Succession in a family business is one of the most agonizing experiences that any family business face(s) when they move from one generation to the next, so of course it's very important to think about succession," Alfredo De Massis, director of the Family Business Center at the Lancaster University Management School, told CNBC in a telephone interview. "Consequently, it's very important… to plan the succession process itself, because it is a process."
John N. Mayes, senior consultant at The Family Business Institute in Raleigh, North Carolina, told CNBC via email that it is "vitally important that every family business expecting to survive to the next generation have a well-thought-out succession plan."
This, Mayes added, means family businesses need to develop and maintain both a management succession plan and an ownership succession plan.
"The management succession plan defines who will lead the family business into the next generation, how the future leaders will be groomed for their roles, and how and when the transition will ultimately take place," he said. "If the "who" is not obvious, qualifications and a plan to fill this void must be part of the plan," he added.
Fiona Graham, from the U.K.'s Institute for Family Business, told CNBC that having a succession plan in place was key to "enduring family business success."
"A proper succession plan places the business on sound footing for the future," Graham went on to explain. "Without it, people don't know what to expect when the time comes for the business to be passed on and this can result in family frictions," she added.
Planning becomes all the more important when one realizes that as well as finances being at stake, emotions play a role too.
"There are emotions in place, it's not only a matter of economic profit, of economic interest, they care of course about profits but they care much more about non-economic things," De Massis said.