Friday, December 24, 2010

Season's Greeting

From My Family To Yours,

May God bless you and

your family this season with Peace, Joy, Hope,

and Happiness.

Best Wishes for a

Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

Steve Moyer

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tis The Season

Tis The Season:

For some families that is a dreaded phrase and for other families that brings warm memories of family gatherings. At a time of year when activities tend to outpace the number of hours in a day and the days keep running together, it is important to keep in mind that it is our families that make the season.

In this time of busy-ness, remember to take time for family.

May this season be one of peace, joy, and happiness as you intentionally seek family time.

From my family to yours,

Enjoy the blessings God has bestowed and may your family experience a prosperous 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Help In Beginning To Understand Generational Differences

In today’s on-line educational seminar with The Network of Family Businesses, Dr. Terry Cahill, (Associate Professor for the PhD Health Sciences program at Seton Hall) began to help the membership recognize the differences between the generations in the family business.

Defining who is currently in the workplace as the Traditionalists, the Boomers, Gen X, and the Millenials, Terry explained the issues that have influenced the personality and values unique to each generation. The influences of events for each generation began to clarify the why and how each generation may act or respond or think. In a clearly defined grid we were able to gain wonderful insight for business families as they consider the differences of the generations when planning succession and transition for the business.

Below is a sample of the grid Terry developed to differentiate potential clash points.


Baby Boomers

Generation X


Career Goals

Building a legacy

Building a stellar career

Building a portable career

Building parallel careers

Reward System

Satisfaction of a job well done

Money, title, recognition, corner office

Freedom is the ultimate reward

Work that has meaning for me

Defining Balance

Support me in shifting form a life of work to retirement

Help me balance everyone else and find meaning myself

Give me balance now, not when I am sixty-five

Work isn’t everything, I need flexibility so I can balance all my activities


No news is good news

Once a year, with lots of documentation

So, how am I doing?

…at the push of a button


I learned it the hard way; you can too

Train’em too much and they’ll leave

The more they learn, the more they stay

Continuous learning is a way of life

I was excited with this insightful perspective presented by Terry and developed a few key take-aways:

1. Continue to work at understanding these generational differences and recognize into which group (s) your family members are – BUT don’t become frustrated with them - capitalize and celebrate the different viewpoints – the strength, depth, and expertise of each group – (our businesses may also be able to use the different generations of our families to help market the business).

2. As families in business implement processes for succession planning – recognize what could potentially be clash points but turn that information into opportunities to strengthen the family.

3. As business grows and families need to recruit (both family and non-family) recognize who and for what we are recruiting – be flexible in meeting the needs and expectations of each individual.

This seminar can be viewed in the archives of The Network of Family Businesses at

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Understanding Generational Differences in Family Businesses - Recognizing Clash Points That May Impact Leadership Succession

The Network of Family Businesses has scheduled an on-line educational seminar with Terry Cahill, EdD, FACHE on Understanding Generational Differences In Family Businesses for Tuesday, December 14th at 11:00 AM EST.

In a White Paper found at Cahill begins to explore clash points between three, four and sometimes five generations working together in the workplace. In the context of family businesses these differences have much more far reaching importance in respect to the critical task of leadership succession according to Cahill.

Terry specializes in management consulting, executive coaching, leadership/organizational development and strategy services. As acting Chair and Associate Professor for the PhD in the Health Sciences program at Seton Hall University, Terry teaches Leadership and Research.

Registration for the On-Line Educational Seminar is available at

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Can a Business Family use Social Networking

Social Networking – a term that sent shudders up my spine.

Thoughts of random tweets about lunch specials; unwanted romance details, or worse – stupid comments on the day’s hot topics or mindless meanderings. Networks like Facebook where young college students make stupid political comments and posting of pictures that will haunt them in their employment careers; or long-lost friends who found me (except I wish they would have stayed “lost”). Sure, there are good things about these social networks – I do get to see pictures of friends who live far away and catch up on their lives. I can find out about my high school reunion, what the flavor of the day is at my local Rita’s Water Ice, and whatever else I want to know about my favorite store or tv program. But is social networking really for me?

Well – maybe there is a way to use social networking to my advantage. As with any invention or technology, there are good uses and misuses. I’ve already given several examples above of “good” uses in my personal life.

But what about in my professional life?

Bill Roberts, in an article for HR Magazine entitled ‘Developing A Social Business Network’, has identified several major organizations whose HR Departments are effectively using Social Networking. By setting up their own networking sites, they are able to communicate new initiatives in the company, allow employees in different geographical locations to “connect, communicate and collaborate”. This internal opportunity to connect, benefit both the employees and the company.

So how could social networking help a family business?

By connecting with other family businesses from around the world, families can discuss issues that are important to them and subsequently benefit from the collective knowledge of Business Families. Business Families can share with other Business Families how they navigated turbulent issues. The issues you face in your family business are probably similar to issues faced by many other families in businesses. Networking with other Businesses Families may provide answers and insights to your questions and issues.

Why not give it a try?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Establishing Core Values in the Family Business

The seminar conducted by Amy Schuman of the Family Business Consulting Group on Establishing Core Values in the Family Business provided our membership with many new insights. Though many times Business Families think Values are a soft activity, Amy stated many times families find this some of the hardest work. Quoting Jack Welch, “soft values deliver hard results”.

The results of Business Families understanding their values can be seen in the performance of individuals, performance of the business, and in personal satisfaction. As Business Families grow and expand from the Founder to Siblings to Cousins and as personal values may begin to diverge it is important to respect the differences and find the sameness to continue stewarding the business. By exploring and comparing the Value statements of several large well-known family owned businesses such as Enterprise Car Rental, S.C. Johnson Company, and The Biltmore Estate Company we were able to see how family values influence the business values. This is not to just copy what another family has discerned but rather to gain understanding.

This seminar was packed full of challenges for Business Families.

Three key take-aways for the participants were:

1. Begin the discussions to discern what the values are that motivate, guide, and impact your family and business. Every Business Family has values, you need to discern them to understand them.

2. WRITE THEM DOWN. The final version will not occur in the first setting and will most likely be an iterative process that will also include word-smithing.

3. Following the old adage “What gets measured, gets done”, develop an audit or measurement to determine if you, your family, and your business are living and practicing your values.

This very thought provoking seminar forced Business Families to look deep inside their own famlies to begin asking the difficult questions.

The seminar can be viewed by members of The Network of Family Businesses in the archive section of the website.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Collaborative Partnership Formed to Better Serve Business Families

I have known Mike McGrann, Executive Director of the S. Dale High Center for Family Business for many years and have had the privilege of working with him in service to several business families. As a visionary and educator, Mike is committed to serving family-owned businesses and I am extremely pleased to be able to serve his membership with this collaborative partnership.

The mission of The Center for Family Business is to serve and strengthen families in business through succession planning, family leadership training and legacy building. In 1995, a group of business people, family business owners, and representatives of Elizabethtown College, came together to fill a recognized need. The S. Dale High Center for Family Business has always been dedicated to bringing the best available resources to families in businesses for south central Pennsylvania and beyond. Today, the S. Dale High Center for Family Business is proud to be one of the largest and oldest centers in the country.

The Network of Family Businesses continues to grow with the collaboration of The S. Dale High Center for Family Business. All members of The S. Dale High Center for Family Business will have full membership and access to the on-line educational seminars, opportunity to dialogue on-line with other families in business, and access to the growing archive of information and articles through The Network of Family Businesses.

This is an exciting step in continuing to provide a growing network of business families access to educational resources as they strive to build their family legacy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Establishing Core Values in the Family Business - How Business Families Can Pass On The Shared Values

The Network of Family Businesses has scheduled an on-line educational seminar with Amy Schuman, Principal, Family Business Consulting Group on Establishing Core Values in the Family Business. The on-line seminar is scheduled for Thursday, November 18th at 11:00 AM EST.

In a White Paper found at Schuman states many family business case histories demonstrate that the strongest governance systems, clearest policies and procedures, and most logical, well-documented roles will collapse if they don't rest on a foundation of shared values. Many families struggle with discerning and documenting their shared values. Families may have a list but may find that list to be a very generic statement that doesn't do a good job of reflecting their unique characteristic as a family and business.

Amy Schuman, a principal of the Family Business Consulting Group, Inc. works with family businesses on leadership development, communication skills and team building. Her experience is centered on helping family members collaboratively create systems, structures and relationships to help them function as effective stewards of their enterprise.

The Network of Family Businesses is an Exclusive Private Network with a growing community of families that have a desire to keep their finger on the pulse of industry trends while building their family legacy. Our network will support you and your family in that journey with our Elite Network of International Renowned Experts, Innovative on-line Educational Seminars, Information Hub of Relevant Articles, and most importantly Connections with Family Businesses from around the world.

Registration for the On-Line Educational Seminar is available at

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Juxtaposed Quotes

Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get

Ray Kroc


Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them.

W. Edwards Deming

Is repeat business just luck?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Conflict in Family Business

Many times I am asked what is the cause or source of conflict in a Family Business.

Though I do not believe there is one answer to that question for every situation or family business, I do believe based on my experience, the source of much conflict is ‘misaligned expectations’.

So what do I mean by ‘misaligned expectations’?

Each family member brings his or her own thoughts, ideas, experiences, definitions, interpretations, and perceptions to discussions, decisions, planning, and communication. These may not always be in alignment or the same as other family members. In many situations there is an assumption (we all know what it means when we assume) that others just know what we mean and we move forward acting on our own definitions or interpretations. Many family members are remarkably out of touch with each other. They fail to realize that they are not operating in isolation. These families take the greatest hits when change is necessary or a critical decision must be made. A failure to accept or hear questions posed for understanding often lead to a defensive posture. When that occurs the ability to move forward is definitely hindered and finger pointing or hostilities develop.

In these type situations it is important that family members seek first to hear and truly listen for understanding rather than thinking about what you want to say. Ask for clarification. Focus on the meaning of what is being said. Together commit to what and how you will move forward. For a family that may require revisiting and reviewing the vision the family has developed for the future and the values that will guide them in the journey.

All family members must understand and own the vision. The vision must be crafted with simplicity but with potency. The message and the means must be communicated frequently through all family members and stakeholders.

Deploying the vision means more than helping people know what the common cause is, it also means helping them get a clear idea of their own contributions to the success of the family cause. This involves helping them interpret the grand vision into a focus for action at their levels.

Countless families have great intentions and inspiring visions for themselves, but they don’t take the critical step of translating their intentions into concrete systems. Even worse, they often implement characteristics, strategies and tactics that are misaligned with their positive intentions, which in turn creates confusion and cynicism.

Don’t let ‘misaligned expectations’ derail building your family legacy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Collaboration is the key to a successful transition of the Family Business

Transition of the family business does not need to be a fight.

Succession of a Family Business from the senior generation to the next generation must be planned for as a collaborative transition, not an event according to Steve McClure, a principal and consultant with the Family Business Consulting Group.

Traditionally business families pass the business to the next generation by ‘cold turkey’, or ‘delay and delay and delay’, or ‘here gone here gone’ which often ends up in two generations fighting for control. After 15 – 20 years the family members, employees, and customers are frustrated and the business suffers. McClure stated the model of leadership for the next generation will not work if it is modeled after the ‘way Dad did it’. As the business founder, he or she was the undisputed boss; with the next generation there may be siblings or cousins that need to learn to new processes and where there will not be one undisputed boss.

One way of determining a new model for leadership of the family business is to see what has worked for other families in similar generations and family structure. The transition must be approached as a long-term balancing act with the gradual transfer of power, roles, and responsibility. This long time frame does not mean there will not be issues, but the next generation will be able to tap the resources of the senior generation.

The secret of collaboration, according to McClure, is to determine what contribution each generation can make to build the family business and legacy. By collaborating on a period of continual adjustment and working together, the family can also focus on the fundamentals of running the business. A very positive tool for this transition is ‘invited accountability’ by way of an independent Board of Directors to help maintain role changes for family members.

According to McClure, the transition of the family business should be a time that yields gratitude and respect of the senior generation.

The Network of Family Businesses would like to thank Steve for presenting the on-line seminar titled:Two Generations Working Together to Transition the Family Business.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Developing Leaders for Family Owned Business Requires Intentionality

In a previous blog (August 8, 2010) I cited a study where it was found that approximately half of the companies surveyed plan to increase their leadership training budgets in 2011. This increase is due to the recognition of the cost effectiveness of building leadership from within as opposed to only hiring the key talent.

To continue my thinking on this critical topic, Family Owned Businesses must also intentionally help the next generation grow and develop. The potential talent pool already knows and understands the family culture. The investment is truly building the legacy and looking to the long-term as the next generation is nurtured.

Previously I recommended that each Family Owned Business leader continue to develop themselves; to carefully select learning projects tailored to the individual in the next generation; and the utilization of 360 Degree Feedback.

Here is a continuation of ideas to nurture the growth and development of the next generation:

4. Build exposure to other leaders: Broaden the opportunity of the next generation to network with seasoned leaders of other Family Owned Businesses. This often may be the opportunity through involvement in trade associations, Family Business Forums, or the local Chamber of Commerce. Either way, it must be intentional.

5. Exposure to the Strategic Agenda: Invite the next generation to sit in on the planning discussions for the next business cycle. Do it now, before they will be expected to make the decisions. Show them your thought process. I know one business family that has rotating seats on their Board of Directors for the next generation.

6. External Coaching: Sometimes our children hear things differently, more clearly, and more receptively from an ‘outsider’. The Coach must understand the issues and concerns of a Business Family, be committed to the success of the next generation and the legacy of the business, and have the ability to both push and pull the next generation along in their learning process.

I will continue to suggest additional ways to develop the next generation in future blogs, but would be interested in hearing your thoughts on these additional ideas.

What has or is your Family intentionally doing to develop the next generation?

Let me know, I would be delighted to include it in the future.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gaining an understanding of Family Business in Bolivia

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Santa Cruz Bolivia to present several lectures at the Universidad Evangelica Boliviana. The President of the University, Dr. Timoteo Sanchez is a long-time dear friend of our family. The privilege to speak to many of the business students in this developing country was an exciting opportunity. One of the requirements for graduation is each Business Administration student must develop a practical and applicable business plan, and because of that most of the students are already involved in a micro-business. I found these students to be engaging, eager, and open to learning. It is my hope and prayer that we can continue to support these students as they move toward graduation and the business world.

In Bolivia and in Santa Cruz in particular there is not an emphasis on the trans-generational transfer of a family business or just the Business Family. The economics of this developing country of 10 million people are extremely difficult for families and businesses. Most of the micro-businesses and SME’s are focused on survival and finding enough sales to survive. Our desire is to provide additional education for Santa Cruz families in business as they build their business, economic culture, and families.

Another exciting part of this visit was the opportunity to meet with several business people, government representatives and trade representatives. These discussions were the direct result of Timoteo’s relationships as President of the University. While all these individuals are very concerned with the political process occuring in Bolivia, they are also very optimistic about the opportunities Bolivia has for the growth of business and Business Families.

If you have an interest in supporting the UEB or in learning more about the Business Families in Santa Cruz, please email me at:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Critical Issues for Managing Succession in the Family Business

Stephen L. McClure Ph.D. is a principal of The Family Business Consulting Group, a multi-national firm based in Atlanta. Steve specializes in family communications and decision-making, succession planning and implementation, and governance & management in family firms. Steve states in a White Paper posted with The Network of Family Businesses that the tensions and conflict in families between the senior generation and the next generation need not be destructive and should be considered normal.

McClure’s White Paper states many family firms have found that they can survive much better as a family and utilize the resources of both generations if they focus on how two generations can collaborate together as opposed to one waiting for the other to leave. It is important for both generations to do the hard work of finding things to collaborate on as they move forward. What worked up to this point in time, will not work in the future.

The White Paper can be found at and an On-Line Educational Seminar on these issues and more is scheduled with McClure for October 19th at 11:00 AM EST. The On-Line Seminar is being sponsored and hosted by The Network of Family Businesses.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Preserving Know-How

If key Family Leaders walk out the door, what tacit knowledge and wisdom leaves with them?

This is of concern for the legacy of the family and the business and in many instances those remaining sit idly by and mourn the loss of all the wisdom. In many situations senior Family leaders are not consciously aware of what they do that has made, and makes them successful. The remaining individuals in the business must frequently and intentionally draw out the knowledge and wisdom. Sometimes this can be accomplished by nurturing informal discussions and at other times by creating intentional dialogue. The best way to help the senior family member pass on their wisdom is by getting them to tell a story.

The next generation needs to ask:

Tell me about the time….

Tell me how you started in the business…

What was the most difficult obstacle you faced when…

Give me an example of …

What was your experience with…

What were the times when…

Each of these leading statements, and there are many more, are designed to allow for additional probing and searching to understand the values, culture, philosophy, thought-process, wisdom and knowledge. If at all possible, as many family members as possible should sit in on the intentional dialogue. Comparing notes following the exercise will also help build oneness of the family. You may even want to video / record the time for future generations.

Don’t wait for a crisis, start today, and enjoy getting to know the senior generation of the Business Family in a whole new way as the wisdom and knowledge is gleaned.

What is your story?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In a family business how do we know what other family members really want?

Why not ask.

In many situations we ‘assume’ we know what the other person is thinking, or we project our own personal attributions or desires on the other person. Having spoken on several occasions with the founder of a family business, ‘Dad’ was beginning to think about retiring.

His first concern was what he will “retire to” and what he will do in retirement? Bottom line, he had not really given it thought before, and now he knew he wanted to retire, but was fearful in not knowing how he would spend his time. He was insightful enough to know we needed to figure something out or he would continually interfere with his daughter running the business.

Hence, the second issue. ‘Dad’ had made the assumption that his son and eldest child had no interest in the business since after growing up with the business and working in the business for several years he had left the business a number of years back and had built his own management career with a public corporation.

In discussing the familial relationships, ‘Dad’ kept saying his son had no interest in the business and that only his daughter was capable of running the business. After finally persuading him to talk with his son, he was astounded to learn that his son had an intense desire to return to the family business and on top of that he also stated his sister had the knowledge, skills, and experience to be President / CEO.

Why wasn’t the conversation started long ago?

Now we need to work out the new partnership agreement, the buy/sell agreement, and the exit strategies of the next generation. This too will require asking the questions and a willingness discuss the difficult issues.

I would love to hear your stories about learning the right information by asking the right questions.

Let me know at

Thursday, September 16, 2010


"Even With Family, It Has To Be All Business"

Jacqueline Shulman, Partner - Labor Relations & Employment Law Department of Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP stated in the September 13th on-line educational seminar with The Network of Family Businesses that Family Businesses are not exempt from Labor and Employment laws. Jackie defined the need to understand what being an At-Will employer means and continued by outling the alphabet list of laws and policies that Families must educate each of their supervisors as well as each family member. She stated that by not following the law and / or not having appropriate policies in place, individual family members may not be protected by the corporate veil and may be held personally liable for failure to comply.

Jackie concluded her seminar by reminding the Membership of these important points every Family Business must remember:

There is No special dispensation for Family Businesses.

It is easy to file a Discrimination Claim!

You can be sued Personally!

It is Your job to Act Professionally (set the tone for your staff)!

Unions like Family Businesses too!

If it “feels good” – it may be best not to act until you check with HR or your labor attorney.

In a Check-List For Every Family Member, Shulman provided questions that each Family member must ask his or herself:

Would I want my actions reported on Action News or in the newspaper?

Would I act the same way in front of my spouse, partner, child or parent?

Would I want to talk about my actions at the dinner table?

Would I want my children to hear about my conduct?

Would I want someone to act this way towards my spouse/partner/child?

Am I treating others as I would want to be treated?

Would I describe my conduct as “ACTING IN A PROFESSIONAL MANNER”?

More information on Shulman’s comments and seminar is available by registering at

Monday, September 6, 2010

Can the next generation in the Family Business say we did it?

Many founders of businesses who have the intent of passing the business to their children find it difficult to develop a plan and a process for the development of the next generation and the subsequent transition of the business to the next generation.

The founder’s heart is generally in the right place in their desire for the next generation to take over the business, make the right decisions, and accept the responsibility. Statements and comments frequently made by the senior generation may include why don’t they tell me what they want to do; what do they want; why won’t they just step up and take responsibility, or what do they expect of us?

In subsequent conversations with the next generation, they state, why doesn’t Dad / Mom just tell us what they want, which one of us will be president, when will they retire, or what will they do when they retire?

What was intriguing in those conversations was the fact that in most cases the next generation was often not given opportunities to learn how to make critical long-term strategic decisions and did not have / or participate in family council meetings to learn how to analyze both family and business issues. In some situations the next generation did not have the opportunity to learn how to operate the business.

It is critical for the senior generation to consciously and specifically help the next generation grow. The next generation needs to gain the expertise, experience, mentoring, tacit knowledge, passion, and internal drive to continue building the family legacy. The next generation needs to hear praise, encouragement, appropriate guidance and the confidence of the senior generation. When the proper plans, processes, and guidance is in place by the senior leadership, the next generation can continue building the legacy.

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, 'We did this ourselves.'"

— Lao-Tse

What have you / are you doing to prepare the next generation?

What will the next generation say?

In many situations the help of an outside facilitator can help guide the process.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail, please contact me.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Jacqueline Shulman, Partner - Labor Relations & Employment Law Department of Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP states in a White Paper posted with The Network of Family Businesses that many family business owners believe their "close-knit" approach provides them with protections not enjoyed by the typical private employer. This wrongly held belief can be costly on two fronts. Aside from poor morale, it could lead to legal fees being expended for failure to comply with specific laws (especially discrimination lawsuits).

Shulman’s White Paper considers three significant issue Family Businesses need to understand: “At-Will doesn’t always mean what is says”; Unions don’t just go after big companies; and Families in Business must know their ABCs which includes state and federal employment laws and the host of other laws titled as an alphabet soup.

The White Paper can be found at and an On-Line Educational Seminar on these issues and more is scheduled with Shulman for September 13th at 11:00 AM EST. The On-Line Seminar is being sponsored and hosted by The Network of Family.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Are Family Businesses Prepared to Lobby for Tax Exemptions

In the recent on-line seminar ‘Issues in Mergers and Acquisitions for Family Owned Businesses’ Robert Nice discussed the large number of family businesses that will be transitioning to the next generation over the next several years.

As most business families are already aware, beginning on January 1, 2011 the Estate Tax will increase to 2001’s minimal exemptions and extremely high rates.

Congress will be returning to Session in September with only four months to rectify this situation. A situation they were unable to rectify in the past nine years.

I would encourage all Families in Business to begin now and contact your Representatives in Congress and your Senators and tell them they need to fix this before the year ends.

A quote I recently read:

“I’m proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is – I could be just as proud for half the money.” - Arthur Godfrey

This would be a good opportunity to also involve the next generation. It would be best if we could get Congress to act before the November elections.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Issues for a Family Business in a Merger, Acquisition or Generational Transfer

Families in business must begin planning.

In our recent on-line seminar, Robert H. Nice of Robert H. Nice Consulting in Telford, PA and a member of the Partner On-Call Network stated for a Family Business that desires to ‘cash out’ and obtain the highest dollar value, the planning process should begin at least three to five years ahead of time.

Robert stated it is critical that Families in Business understand the subtleties of the “deal” whether acquiring another business or passing the business to the next generation. He stated that in many situations the seller has unrealistic expectations of the value of the business. In defining the trans-generational issues, Robert stated the valuation process must be understood by all family members and will be critical for the transfer and for estate planning purposes. Failure to plan correctly could jeopardize the long-term family legacy as well as tax complications. Robert strongly advocated having all family members involved in the buy / sell / transfer discussions giving all family members a chance “not” to be part of any deal. He stated this also helps determine who of the family may have the drive, desire, knowledge, skills, and abilities to lead the family and continue growing the family legacy. He added, “It may not always be the first born.”

Other internal family issues he defined included determining how Dad will get paid back and will the next generation be willing to sign a bank loan as a guarantee of their commitment. He also stated that any acquisition a family in business makes should be structured with the next generation in mind, in order to reduce the current generation’s estate planning burden. Keeping the next generation in mind does not always occur.

Robert reiterated that families in business must know and understand the financial picture and value of the business in order to make the right business decisions. He also stated that regardless of the size or scope of the business having documented processes and procedures for operational items, customers, accounting, exit strategies, and liquidity policies will enhance the positive transfer whether to family or in an outside sale. Another key point was to begin planning for the transition now, and that means involving the next generation.

What has been your experience in acquisitions and generational transfer of the family business?


Sunday, August 15, 2010

What does change mean for Families in Business

“There is nothing permanent except change."

Heraclitus, 513 BC

Based on this quote, people have been struggling with change for over 2,500 years.

I recently was talking with several business owners who commented that they felt the economic climate, the business climate, and the family dynamics were changing so fast they did not know which way to turn. Those comments stirred my thoughts to explore what do business families need to be aware of, or not lose in a changing environment?

If we stop to think why people usually fight change it is frequently because they feel they do not have or will not have control and the familiarity of the known is more comforting than the unknown. The natural response to this feeling of powerlessness, frustration, and fear is resistance. This resistance requires inclusion in the discussions, evaluations of the options, and a belief that as a family all are united.

Several ways we can begin to help our families and businesses deal with change is to recognize and admit that change is a fact of life and without it we will never grow our business or build a family legacy. With a recognition of these facts, together the business family can decide what, where, when, and how the change will be met.

By reaching out to other family members, maintaining realistic optimism and a can-do spirit the business can meet and plan for changes by finding new opportunities in changing situations.

Sometimes change feels like a roller coaster with no one sure which way to go.

If you expect the unexpected you will not be surprised that you are surprised.

How is your family and your business planning for change?


Thursday, August 12, 2010

How much stress is created in the Family Business?

The recent episode regarding the JetBlue flight attendant that took a rather unique way to exit the organization, make a statement, and gain notoriety raises questions that each family business should consider. If one believes the Flight attendant’s actions truly occurred as a result of his inability to handle “stress”, what is the alternative. Some stress can be debilitating and individuals respond differently.

Part of the answer needs to lie within the individual. They need to have a level of self-awareness so as not to react inappropriately. Respond don’t react. As Families in Business it is important to help all family members and employees to understand themselves. They after all represent the family and the business. Inappropriate reactions do not make good press and are not healthy.

Another part of the answer lies within the structure of the organization. Are the processes, procedures, workflow, reporting dynamics, or structures creating a toxic environment? Leadership needs to look in the mirror and honestly explore their contribution to the crisis.

It is important to note that some stress can actually be healthy and encourage higher performance levels and more alert behavior.

How much stress are we creating in our family, or in our business, or for our employees?

How are we helping our family members gain higher levels of self-awareness?

What are we doing to provide proper and acceptable ways of dealing with stress?

The JetBlue flight attendant may become a folk hero, but it is not the type press coverage a Family Business should desire.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Leadership Development Requires Intentionality

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled Leadership Training Gains Urgency Amid Stronger Economy the writer stated that due to layoffs and cutbacks during the past two years, organizations are finding the depth and bench of their leadership talent is not what it had been. While this particular blog is not to debate the economy, I will leave that to Dr. Bill Dunkelberg one of our featured speakers, it is meant to force continued thought on what Families in business can do to intentionally develop the next generation.

In a study cited by the author it was found that approximately half of the companies surveyed plan to increase their leadership training budgets in 2011. Many organizations are recognizing the cost effectiveness of building leadership from within as opposed to only hiring the key talent. At Rockwell International they are now realizing their leadership development programs were not connected. They are now realizing that must change, quickly.

This Journal article got me to thinking about the impact the author’s premise may have on family businesses. As the Baby Boomers plan the transition of the business to the next generation, Families must intentionally help the next generation grow and develop. The potential talent pool already knows and understands the family culture. The investment is truly building the legacy and looking to the long-term as the next generation is nurtured.

So what are a few intentional ways to develop the next generation?

1. Continue to develop yourself: As a leader in your family, you set the example. Seek to learn and grow at whatever stage of life you may be. The more competent you are, the more likely people are to trust you. Developing oneself influences relations with others, motivates others, and inspires others.

2. Carefully select learning projects: Everyone has areas of growth opportunity. Take time to analyze what the business will face in the future and intentionally have the next generation take responsibility for beginning the investigation or data gathering of what and how the business can address the issue. The opportunity to learn the business, craft analysis and presentations will help the next generation face future business needs.

3. Utilize 360 Degree Feedback: This feedback can prove invaluable to gain deeper insight into how others view them. Many times we don’t know what we don’t know, and that is what can create bigger problems for the next generation later on. This can be a very valuable learning opportunity, BUT IT MUST BE DONE VERY CAREFULLY. I am a proponent of 360’s but also believe very strongly the process must be carefully monitored. It has the potential of crushing the spirit if the process is abused. It must be done in an environment of trust, caring, and confidentiality and is often best done by an independent unbiased third party.

I will suggest additional ways to develop the next generation in future blogs, but would be interested in hearing your thoughts on these first three ideas.

So Comment please.