Friday, April 22, 2011

A Balancing Act

I stopped and listened to an interesting segment on one of the morning news shows recently. The discussion centered on a survey that found Moms now feel guilty when their work intruded on their “family time.” Moms felt guilty when “technology” (i.e. blackberry, e-mail, phone calls, etc.) was disturbing their personal time with their family. They also struggled when the boss asked them to stay late or work weekends. They admitted it was hard to say “no” to work. Some even resorted to turning off all “technology” for several hours in the evening so that they would not have to make a choice between answering the demands of work and spending time with family.

Isn’t this a fact of life for family business owners? We are “on call” 24/7. It’s just a way of life. Our responsibilities don’t end at 5 and begin again the next morning. It’s our responsibility to make sure ovens are running, the deliveries are getting made, the customers are satisfied and our employees are taken care of. The joy for a family business owner is that it is a “family” business. Parents, children, grandchildren are all welcome parts of the business. Responsibilities and joys are all shared. When Dad or Mom needs to attend to the business, the kids are often invited along. It becomes an informal teaching session for the children – teaching them the in’s and out’s of the business, along with a sense of responsibility.

While we all look for balance in our lives, Family Business Owners have the unique opportunity to incorporate work and personal life – hopefully to the advantage of both.

Guest Blogger:

Kathy Moyer

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Board of Directors for the Family Business: Getting the Most Out of Your Board

In a recent on-line seminar Jennifer Pendergast discussed the advantages for a Family Business in having an active independent Board of Directors. A senior associate of The Family Business Consulting Group, Inc.®, Jennifer Pendergast specializes in strategic planning, family and business governance, family office structure, and facilitation.

Jennifer went into great detail defining the contribution a Board can make to both the Family and the Business. She began by reviewing research that showed the vast majority of family businesses still do not have independent Directors on their boards, and many never use the board they have in any sort of oversight or governance capacity. Not having a Board may be considered as somewhat shortsighted. Jennifer stated, “First, it is likely that over time not all owners will be involved in the management of the business, creating some possible tension between “inside” and “outside” owners that independent board directors could help alleviate. Second, while the overlap of management and ownership may reduce the need for oversight, the additional overlap of family relationships in a business context increases the emotional complexity of certain key decisions (from compensation to succession planning) that would be beneficially impacted by the presence of trusted independent board members.”

Three Key Take Away Points made by Jennifer:

1. Developing a BOD is process that will evolve over time and will meet the needs of the family and the business. It is critical that family members and the Ownership agree on the Governance structure. Dialogue and discussion are important to determine what “high” level input can be helpful and will be accepted.

2. Define the Roles and Responsibilities and Expectations of BOD. Both Family and outside professionals.

3. Be diligent in the search for Board members. Interview to make sure they meet the criteria you need. And that the individuals you are considering really care about you, really care about your family, and really care about your family business.

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

Friday, April 8, 2011

Why does our Family Business Exist?

I recently asked a family member working in their Family Business, “Why does your Family Business exist?”

The response was a long period of silence, followed by, “I never really thought about it, it was always just here.”

If you were to stand at the door of your business and ask every individual (both family and non-family) that goes in and out of your business, how will they answer that question?

Why is this question and understanding so important?

As a Family in Business – Why does your family business exist?

Let me know

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Board of Directors for the Family Business: Getting the Most Out of Your Board

The Network of Family Businesses has scheduled an on-line educational seminar with Jennifer Pendergast on the advantages of a family business to develop a Board of Directors. The seminar scheduled for Tuesday, April 12th at 11:00 AM EST is titled: The Valuable Role of the Board in Family Business.

In a White Paper found at Jennifer explains that to get the most out of a BOD the family / ownership must establish meaningful roles, clear expectations of the Board member, carefully structured meetings, and evaluations of the Board member. Pendergast states, “Putting together a board that is actively involved in the oversight of a company is a significant investment. If you make the investment that allows a board to play a meaningful role in your company, you will definitely reap the rewards.”

A senior associate of The Family Business Consulting Group, Inc.®, Jennifer Pendergast specializes in strategic planning, family and business governance, family office structure, and facilitation. Jennifer is an experienced management consultant with an extensive background in the many strategic challenges faced by family firms serving a broad range of clients, ranging from startup to Fortune 500 companies, in both for-profit and non-profit arenas. With a Ph.D. in strategy, Pendergast has taught Emory University's Goizueta Business School, Georgia Tech and The Wharton Business School. Her teaching experience spans undergraduate, MBA and executive level programs. Pendergast's presentations, consultations and publications concentrate on strategic planning and business growth, developing and managing family meetings, family councils and ownership groups, structuring and improving the effectiveness of boards of directors and creating and managing family offices.

Registration for the On-Line Educational Seminar is available at