Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Intersection

A few weeks ago, the entire country was talking about the latest Powerball jackpot – over one-half billion dollars – a staggering amount for most of us.  News reporters loved interviewing and asking the public what they would do with such a windfall.  Overall, we seem to be a fairly generous nation, promising if we would win, we’d take care of family, friends and others, or make large contributions to our favorite charities.  But we were also warned how easy it is to lose all of that money by not getting the proper advice on how to distribute that vast wealth.

Well – unfortunately, I didn’t win, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to make contributions to my favorite charities and I’ve got to be just as careful to do it wisely as the lucky Powerball winners. Teresa Araco Rodgers ( December's speaker on the Network of Family Businesses ( provided valuable insight on why it is so important for Business Families to use the proper vehicles when making contributions.  Teresa helped us understand how it can be so meaningful for both family members and family business employees to be involved in the process of giving. 

No family business is too small or too large to not explore the best ways to make their contributions.

At this special time of year, may we all take the time to remember those less fortunate and support those organizations that serve. 

You will be blessing them and you will be blessed as the giver.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Preconceived Ideas May Be A Limiting Factor by guest Contributor - Kathy

This past weekend I had a new job –CBO (“Chief Babysitting Officer”) for our two little granddaughters.   After raising two boys, I was thinking I would have to switch gears to make sure I had some activities planned that would appeal to little girls.  How did I do?  Well – some things I thought they would enjoy were a hit, like my old dollhouse that I drug out of the attic and then a few sticker crafts. 

But they surprised me too. 

They were much more interested in playing outside, riding tricycles, checking out the chickens, sitting on the tractor.  And the books I thought they’d love (kittens and sweet things) were the least favorite.  They wanted the books about driving trucks, everyday activities like bath-time and finding the hidden pictures.  Well – it all worked out and we had a great time.  But I learned I had to be flexible and not stick with my preconceived ideas about who they are and what they wanted to do. 

By spending time together and talking and listening to each other, we found many different ways to have fun together and enjoy each other’s company.

So how does this relate to family businesses? 

Isn’t it the same?  We all have preconceived ideas about how the next-gen should be preparing to take over the business as well as preconceived ideas about how they should actually run the business. But they have their own ideas. 

How do we learn what their ideas are?  By spending time with each other on a regular basis – both in and outside of the business and by actually listening to each other.  And then being honest enough to evaluate everyone’s thoughts, ideas and concerns and coming up with the best plan for both the business and the family. 

True success for a business family means both success in the business and success in the family.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Intersection of Family Philanthropy and Business Philanthropy

Think about walking past the community soccer fields on a Saturday morning. The fields are packed with children running around in bright colored shirts. Take a closer look and you will probably notice the names of companies on those shirts – those companies are probably family-owned businesses supporting the community in which they live and work.
Family owned businesses are crucial to our economy in terms of creating jobs, generating wealth and building community. According to Family Enterprise USA, there are 5.5 million family-owned businesses in the United States. What is astounding about these businesses is that according to that same study, 95% of them are engaged in philanthropy.  That is a lot of soccer shirts!
Corporate philanthropy (whether a business is family-owned or not) has been in the midst of change for quite some time now.  To simplify, what has emerged are three ways of thinking about the outward expression of company values.  These are philanthropy, community involvement and social innovation.  When combined, these practices ultimately define the company’s culture and, in the case of a family-owned business, they define the family’s culture and those things they deem important. 
The Network of Family Businesses is excited to present this Webinar scheduled for Thursday, December13th, 2012 at 10:00 AM EST, with Teresa Araco Rodgers, CAP® President and Founder of harp-weaver LLC.

This discussion will explore emerging practices, Philanthropy considerations, and questions your Family should be considering.

Teresa Araco Rodgers began her career at SEI, a global provider of asset management, investment processing and investment operations solutions.  Teresa founded harp-weaver LLC in 2010 because she wants to give donors a better way to add meaning and align gifting with personal, family and financial goals.  Her mission is to inspire others by helping them articulate their values and passions to be purposeful givers. With more than 10 years of grantmaking experience, Teresa works with clients in the Greater Philadelphia area, supporting donor interests professionally, ethically and cost-effectively.  As a "network weaver," Teresa brings people and organizations together to address issues of concern and enables donors to be more strategic with their charitable dollars and more fulfilled with their involvement.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Be Thankful for what you have,

                                   not what you don’t have.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What does it take to be an entrepreneur? A Mustache and a Dream. by guest blogger Aaron Cargas

When Chip Cargas started Cargas Systems, Inc. (my employer), it was 1988, and all he had was a Macintosh computer, a mustache, and a dream. On second thought, he also had an Ivy League education, and years of experience as an engineer, manager, and human resources executive.
What did he lack? He didn’t have any marketing or sales experience; nor did he have any accounting or financial knowledge, key skills if you are starting a business by yourself with no customers. The eighties were coming to an end, and Chip realized the days of covering up what you didn’t know by having stellar facial hair were soon to be over. So he gave himself a crash course in the areas of business where his knowledge was light.
He took some sales and marketing courses and learned enough to do the simple marketing to get him to the point of landing his first customer. Even though he wasn’t a typical salesperson, he learned the basics of building and managing a pipeline, doing the necessary follow up, creating proposals, and doing good presentations. He learned enough to build the business to the point where he could hire someone with natural sales talent.
He also read the Accounting for Non-Accountants book and learned the basic accounting needed to run a business. He became very proficient at building budgets, working with financial models, and dealing with banks. He ended up with a fundamental understanding of accounting that would rival a CFO’s knowledge in many companies.
You can learn a lesson from Chip and his mustache; managers, executives, and entrepreneurs should strive to have a working knowledge of all areas of business. Even if you are not starting your own business, this broad knowledge will help you understand what’s driving the motivations of all areas of your company. Too often people pigeonhole themselves and then become small minded defenders of the narrows interests of their own discipline. It’s great to be an expert, but it’s better to be an expert with a broad understanding of business.
Chip ended up shaving his mustache in the nineties as if to tempt fate and test the mettle of his newfound skills. The company continued to grow, so this proves the theory that well-rounded business knowledge trumps well maintained whiskers. So take a lesson and become well versed in all aspects of business. Then when you do decide to grow an awesome mustache, it will simply be icing on the cake.

Aaron Cargas is a board member and one of many employee owners at Cargas Systems, an employee owned business software and consulting firm. He has been writing on leadership, management, and entrepreneurial topics since 2003. Read Aaron’s blog at and follow Aaron on Twitter @ManagerialMayhm. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Leveraging the Power of Peers in a Family Business

Join us for a discussion on Peers in a Family Business.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review lauded the positive influence that peers can play. Peers were cited as the “single most neglected level of change.” A true group of peers exerts an even greater force for change, which is why these groups have been so successful for most.

There are many other peer groups or quasi-advisory boards that vie for each person’s time. Joining a group is a matter of your ability to invest the time and capacity to be sure you get the most out of your experience. Beware of groups that may be too large or transient (members continually changing) as it will affect the level of confidentially you will experience in a group. While the advice an owner receives in a peer group is non-binding, the power of the peer relationship eventually calls for some level of action. Coming to the group month after month with the same nagging issue is never good practice.

Join The Network of Family Businesses for a virtual educational Webinar on Thursday, November 15th, 2012 at 11:00 AM EST, with Daniel G. Van Der Vliet, M. Ed., Director of The Family Business Initiative at UVM.

This discussion will explore selecting, participating and getting the most out of your Peer Group.

Daniel G. Van Der Vliet, M. Ed. is Director of The Family Business Initiative at UVM. He is a 2001 graduate of the University of Vermont with a B.S. in Natural Resources - Recreation Management. He is a 2010 graduate of the Master of Education Interdisciplinary Studies program at the University of Vermont. As Director of The Family Business Initiative at UVM since 2003, Dann works with owners and their successors to find solutions that work for both family and business. He teaches Leading and Managing the Family and Closely Held Business each fall semester. 
Previously, as Director of the Vermont Business Center from 2004-2008, Dann oversaw the launch and growth of the executive education curriculum and management development seminars at UVM in addition to establishing custom trainings offered by the University of Vermont School of Business. Dann is on the Board of Advisors for the Family Business Wiki, Board of Corporators for the Northfield Savings Bank, Board of Trustees for the Birds of Vermont Museum, and is past President of the Burlington Sunrise Rotary Club.

Registration to join The Network of Family Businesses and be eligible for the On-Line Educational Seminar is available at:

For additional information email:

Friday, October 12, 2012

The New York Family Business Center and The Network of Family Businesses Collaborate

Please join us in welcoming The New York Family Business Center.

The Network of Family Businesses continues to grow. We are excited to announce The New York Family Business Center has joined with The Network of Family Businesses to offer members of The New York Family Business Center membership and access to The Network of Family Businesses Resources, Webinars, Archives, Discussion Forums, and Networking with our current members. 
The New York Family Business Center gives family owned business owners and managers opportunities to interact and learn from each other and from family business professionals. The Center provides tools, resources, consulting, training, interaction, and education specific to family owned businesses in upstate New York in a nurturing and confidential environment. The Center partners with community leaders, organizations, colleges and universities to provide access, research and academic courses that are needed by family business owners.
President of The Network of Family Businesses, Dr. Steven K. Moyer, stated this is an exciting step in welcoming The NY Family Business Center into the growing Network of Family Businesses as they strive to help Business Families build their legacy.
If you would like more information, contact Steven K. Moyer at: or by calling: 215.256.5997

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Key Non-Family Executive in the Family Business

How does an independent Family Business Advisor transition to the role of Employee?
What issues should a business family address for key non-family executives?

Join The Network of Family Businesses for a virtual educational Webinar on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 at 10:00 AM EST, with Scott Heintzelman, Vice President Finance & Administration for Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc.

This discussion will explore the roles and responsibilities a non-family executive can fulfill and begin to explore the expectations that both family members and non-family members may have. Learn how to avoid pitfalls for the family and the non-family executive. Join us to hear Scott’s story of his transition to being a key non-family executive in a family business.

Scott Heintzelman holds a B.S. in accounting from Messiah College and is the Vice President of Finance and Administration at Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc. His focus at Martin’s is on management training, strategic planning, people development, and formalization of process. Before his employment at Martin’s, he was a Partner with McKonly & Asbury, LLP where he was in charge of the Family Business Group and in doing so, provided service to some of the region’s most well known businesses. A Certified Public Accountant, Scott is a member of the American and Pennsylvania Institutes of Certified Public Accountant. As a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), at McKonly & Asbury he led the firm’s forensic accounting and fraud prevention team.

While employed at McKonly & Asbury, Mr. Heintzelman wrote a blog, “The Exuberant Accountant,” which Entrepreneur Magazine recognized as one of four best accounting blogs for gaining "a better understanding of your business finances." He also is a frequent guest lecturer on the subjects of Family Business, succession planning, employee engagement, fraud prevention, and social media marketing.

Mr. Heintzelman is a member of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of Messiah College. Additionally, he serves on the Central Pennsylvania Advisory Board for M&T Bank.

Registration to join The Network of Family Businesses and be eligible for the On-Line Educational Seminar is available at:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Advantage

Recently I completed reading Patrick Lencioni’s book, 
The Advantage, and came to the conclusion with minimal word smithing, this book could be all about building The Advantage for Business Families.

Lencioni (p. 77) outlines 6 basic questions that must also be asked of every Organization. I am suggesting also of every Business Family.
1.     Why do we exist?
2.     How do we behave?
3.     What do we do?
4.     How will we succeed?
5.     What is most important right now?
6.     Who must do what?

If a Business Family could work through these questions and develop clear answers that all could agree to, understand, and continually communicate they would see the health of their family and business grow exponentially. 

Discussing these questions requires trust, commitment, communication, communication, communication, and accountability.

How is your Family processing these questions?
What needs to happen for your Family to be able to discuss these critical questions?

Your Thoughts?

Monday, July 30, 2012

How Your Family Business Can Benefit From Telling Your History

Our next Webinar is scheduled for August 21, 2012 at 3:00 PM EST, with Bonnie Hurd Smith, President and CEO of History Smiths. Bonnie desires to help Business Families achieve business results AND make a significant difference in the communities they serve.

This webinar will help Business Families learn to tell their story. Telling the story of your family business can show what makes your family unique, build an “emotional connection” with your customers, and deepen their loyalty.

No one else can tell YOUR story! And the fact is, people love a warm and fuzzy family story. No one is interested in the occasional family conflict. Instead, people want to hear stories about multiple generations working together and passing down knowledge from one generation to the next. They want to hear proud father/son stories, or mother/daughter stories, or husband/wife stories. Why? Because it’s what we all want in our own lives.

Bonnie is an experienced organizational/project manager, cultural tourism and public relations professional, event planner, and fundraiser. She is also a respected historian, the author of numerous historical books and articles, and a popular public speaker. She has served as the board president of the Sargent House Museum (a historic house museum in Gloucester, Massachusetts), as executive director of the Ipswich (MA) Historical Society, and she currently serves as a commissioner of the Essex National Heritage Commission and as a member of the Massachusetts Historical Records Council.

Registration to join The Network of Family Businesses and be eligible for the On-Line Educational Webinar is available at:

For additional information email:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why an Exit Strategy

Mark Lee and Karen Benz of, Business Legacy Consulting, began their discussion of “How to Ensure a Legacy for a Business Family with this quote by a famous philosopher.

            “You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there.”
                                     Yogi Berra

Mark stated if you don’t put together a plan to accomplish something, there is a good chance you won’t attain what you want and need to.  That could not be more true in the area of exiting a business. Research shows that many business owners just don’t ever plan on leaving their businesses or believe that there will always be a tomorrow. 

These reasons contribute to what Mark and Karen call the “Ostrich Syndrome” or the excuses why individuals do not plan their exit.
A.   “Too early”?  --  They suggest you start planning 3 -5 years before you leave your business.
B.    “Too complex?” – Yes it is!  That’s why you need help.  Exit planners work to coordinate the work of your advisory team.
C.    “Too time consuming?  -- Yes, if you do it alone.  Again, exit planners will do the planning and coordinating of the work to be done.

An Exit Strategy includes the written goals for the succession of  business ownership and control, derived from a well-thought out and properly timed plan that considers all factors, all interested parties, and the personal goals of the owners in a manner and a time period that works best for the business, its shareholders, potential buyers, and Family.

Mark and Karen left our members with much to think about as well as these three takeaways a Business Family can begin to immediately process:

1. Every business owner will eventually leave their business.  The question is, will they leave on their   
    terms or on someone else’s?

2. The most important aspect of exit planning is going through the process of setting goals.

3. Those who are the happiest with their position in life after the transition are those who planned for it.

The majority of business owners spend an average of 80 hours developing a business plan –this at a time WHEN THE BUSINESS HAS LITTLE TO NO VALUE and yet they spend only 6 hours planning for their exit – WHEN THE BUSINESS IS WORTH SO MUCH MORE.

Plan for your transition – on your terms –and protect your Business Legacy and your family…

Mark and Karen, thank you for your insight and wisdom on the critical issue for Business Families.

They can be contacted at

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Our next Webinar is scheduled for July 18, 2012 at 3:00 PM EST, with Karen Benz, MS and Mark Lee, CPA, MBA. Mark Lee and Karen Benz are founders of Business Legacy Consulting, Inc. providing exit planning and business consulting services to small to medium size business owners.

This intense webinar will explore the many risks associated with not planning in advance for leaving the business.  The issues include:  not meeting your business, family and personal goals; selling your business for less than it’s worth; family in-fighting and discord; transitioning at the wrong time; and not having a successor developed. Developing an exit strategy and exit plan can mitigate these risks significantly.

An exit strategy sets the context for the exit plan. Learn the key elements of an exit strategy and what the critical questions are, that must be considered. Answering questions such as: What do you want this transition out of your business to do for your life?  and What are your  personal/family obligations? are essential to the exit plan. 

Karen's focus is on business consulting, strategy and leadership development with an emphasis on improving individual and organizational performance. Mark has a passion for helping business owners succeed. They both bring extensive experience in business planning, evaluation of business systems and general management services.

Registration to join The Network of Family Businesses and be eligible for the On-Line Educational Seminar is available at:

For additional information email:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Preparing the Nxt Generation for Leadership

Many ‘young’ leaders today grew up in an environment where every child received a ribbon or trophy and some schools no longer declare a Valedictorian. Yet in the business environment, there is a need for people to step forward, be recognized and lead.

In the Business Family, the process of developing savvy business leaders with the ability to unify the family, nurture the vision, maintain focus, maintain energy, maintain persistence, and see the world from others’ perspective is increasingly critical for the family to build their transgenerational legacy.

Skills necessary to build the interfamily networking skills, the ability to act and speak with power, and how to influence others and build a unified team can be learned. If the Nxt Gen leader can learn that what is good for the family and the business is good for them, the family and the business will be poised for success.

“The Diamond cannot be polished without friction, nor the man perfected without trials.”
                        Chinese Proverb

What trials, experiences and opportunities are we creating or allowing for the Nxt Gen leaders to be perfected?

I would love to hear your story

Monday, June 11, 2012

Business Succession and Estate Planning: A Team Approach

The Network of Family Businesses has scheduled a virtual educational Webinar  on June 28, 2012 at 11:00 AM EST, with Rich Locher, Financial Advisor, and Philip E. Levin, Esq. This practical and ‘how to’ discussion will help Family Business owners better understand the various disciplines needed in the planning process. Gain insight into what are the key points a Business Owner needs to consider as they approach the planning process, how Business Planning Concerns impact Estate Planning Concerns, and how one selects the correct tools and instruments for Estate Planning.

Rich brings with him 30 years experience in the investment and financial planning industry. His strengths are in helping his planning clients understand the impact their financial decisions have on their quality of life- now and in the future, especially the outcome of delaying decisions regarding family protection, estate planning or keeping investments in line with long-term goals. 

Attorney Philip Levin has over 25 years of experience working with clients, along with their financial and tax advisors, to develop and implement comprehensive and tax efficient estate plans for individuals, business owners, and corporate executives. Phil believes that the key to creating an effective estate plan is to inform clients about their options under current law and create an integrated plan designed to make sure that the right property, distributes to the right party, at the right time, either outright, or through flexible trust planning arrangements. Phil has worked with many privately owned family businesses for the purpose of developing business disposition plans to protect the rights and interests of company shareholders, partners, and their families.

Don’t miss this critical and timely ‘How To’ topic.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Remember When?

Remember the days when business was done on a handshake?  When an individual’s word was their guarantee?

For families in business, their name is on the door or the delivery truck or the website. Their word is the family’s name and they are usually committed to supporting the communities.  Studies have shown that over a third of the 5.5 million family businesses in the United States have written codes for the behavior of the family and the business and consistently talk about those values and ethics.

It is often because of the relationships that were built by the founders or previous generations that family businesses continue to trust and respect each other and still do business with each other into the 2nd or 3rd or 4th generations and beyond. The trust developed between generations doesn’t just happen: it takes work, it takes learning, it takes sharing information of what works and what could be done better.

To build a Family Legacy, the same is true. By offering a special promo code (join2012), The Network of Family Businesses is providing a special promotion to help Family Businesses keep the next generation in mind in decisions they make and the plans they develop. The sharing of information through Social Media and nurturing a Network for Nxt-Gen Internships will develop new relationships just like the relationships that were built by the founders and previous generations.

Building and nurturing relationships, networking with other Families in Business, providing resources for learning and sharing is how The Network of Family Businesses supports families as they strive to grow their family, their business, and build their family legacy.

Remember when your family knew who they could turn to?  Today, family businesses can turn to The Network of Family Businesses.

Visit the The Network of Family Businesses at: -- Promo Code: join2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How Healthy is Your Business Family Culture

An effective Business Culture is built on trust, respect, values and                                                             the proactive engagement of the leaders.

In a Business Family an effective and healthy culture is nurtured and modeled by all members of the Family. Are you as a Family in Business creating a culture of excellence, of clear performance expectations, of trust and respect or are you creating a culture of mediocrity and ‘what’s in it for me’?

To build a culture of trust we need to ‘do what we say we will do’ and fulfill our commitments, display a willingness to rely on others and trust we all have each other’s, the family’s, and the business’s long term interest at heart.

The culture of the business will be based on the values of the family. The recognition and adoption of the values, guidelines, and way of behaving that a Family has declared should be communicated often, communicated in writing and will be communicated in deed and action.

When there is strong accountability, commitment and agreement to those values both family members and employees are able to focus on the family needs, the business needs and the long-term goals.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Raising Successors to be Adults and Peers - A Family Business Dynamic

As a parent we want to do the right things correctly.
As leaders of the family business we usually want to build the family legacy and have the business thrive for generations.

In a recent Webinar, Dr. Steve Treat itemized what he believes are the three highest corollaries’ for the successful transition of a family business.
1.     Family Meetings that not only discuss the business but the family.
2.     A family business leader that steps down and turns the business over to his/her successor in a timely fashion.
3.     Peerage.

In the webinar Steve outlined very specific steps for parents (steps that apply to children of any age) to build relationships and relate to their children as peers.
            The goal of Peerage and Adulthood:
                        - Building an identity of their own
                        - Having accomplishments of their own
                        - Learning how to think on one’s own
                        - Asserting oneself respectfully
                        - A clear understanding of roles
                        - No sense of entitlement
The many ideas for the basic of growth parents included: to learn to be friends with our adult children, learn how to build a peer relationship with them, learn how to build mutuality, have boundaries, and build integrity. Steve states there is every reason to believe the family and the business will thrive.

This is a must see webinar for any parent.
It is an absolute must see for Business Families striving to build their family legacy.

The webinar is available in archives of The Network of Family Businesses.