Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tis The Season

Christmas and New Year, the season of love and happiness is here and we would like to take an opportunity to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. For us, Christmas is filled with more happiness because of friends like you.

We are thankful for the opportunity to work with great folks like you.  We are able to do what we do because of referrals from people like you.  We don't take those referrals lightly, and we appreciate you thinking of us when we could be helpful to you or someone you know.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. 

       We wish you the best in the New Year.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Family Conflict

Who can answer the question? 

What is the cause or source of conflict in a family business?

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

So what do we 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.
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 and conflict.

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

Friday, October 30, 2015

ESOP 101: What is an Employee Stock Ownership Plan? Is it right for a Family Business?

With Jim Steiker
SES Advisors, Inc.

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are unique among retirement plans. An ESOP merges the tax benefits of a qualified retirement plan with corporate nuance, and aligns employees’ retirement benefits with corporate goals. This combination of tax-favored employee and corporate benefits is complex. With planning and an expert team of advisors, it can be a win-win scenario for both employees and employers.

Is an ESOP Right for You?

An ESOP can be appealing if you want to reward employees who have helped you build your business, and it can also be used to supplement your firm's 401(k) or other retirement plan.

Why Should A Family Business Consider An ESOP
ESOPs are a tax-favored liquidity strategy that delivers fair value for shareholders.
ESOPs allow for a “low and slow” ownership transition
ESOPs benefit the people who have helped create value in the Company.
ESOPs create tax-favored independent and sustainable companies.
ESOPs create and preserve legacy

James G. Steiker: James G. Steiker is Chairman and CEO of SES Advisors, Inc. and Founding
Partner and Chairman of its sister law firm, Steiker, Greenapple & Croscut P.C.

Jim is a corporate, pension and tax attorney and financial advisor with more than 30 years of experience in Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) and other employee ownership matters, focusing primarily on ESOP design, transactions and compliance in entrepreneurial companies.

Jim is the past Chair of the ESOP Association’s Advisory Committee on Finance and currently serves on the ESOP Association Board of Governors. He is also a past trustee of the Employee Ownership Foundation and a past member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Employee Ownership. He is a frequent speaker and author on ESOP matters and serves as a director of nine ESOP companies.

Jim is a graduate of New York University School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden-Snow Scholar, and of Wesleyan University.

555 City Ave.,
Suite 910
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

Join The Network of Family Businesses for this fascinating Webinar on Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern Time, with Jim.
For additional information email: steve@netfamilybusiness.com

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Family Business Case Study

Mesbo Supermercats
A Family firm facing succession

With Dr. Alan Carsrud
Carsrud and Associates

Introduction: Discussing Succession

“I think we should sell it now that it is going well, have you seen Picker, yes, I am talking about the family who used to be one of our main competitors, they no longer are our competitors, and you know why, don’t you? They got more than US $100 million, and now they are retired enjoying their time, something we haven’t done for years!  We need to sell now. Always working and now having to deal with all this succession stuff. Who tells you that our children aren’t going to sell it in the near future anyway?” Marcos Bo was saying to his brother Pablo who listened to him in that understanding way he had, just as he had always done in the past.

It took Pablo a long time but he finally convinced his two brothers that they urgently needed to face their succession problem. Their retirement was no longer some day in the far away future (Jose and Marcos were in their 60´s and Pablo was in his late 50’s).

The critical questions in this case center on the succession process:
            Was it the right timing for the three Bo brothers to start planning their retirement?            
            Was their previous attitude –secrecy- towards their families adequate? 
            Were they correct in not wanting to involve the family at all in the business?             
            What consequences did this attitude have on their children and on the management team?
            How had they dealt with the siblings joining the business?
            Have they been trained correctly?
            Is equality a good solution to compensate them?

Read the Case Study:

Alan Carsrud: Alan is Researcher Professor at Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland and
Managing Director of Carsrud and Associates. He holds a B.A. (honors) with majors in Psychology and Sociology and minors in History and Anthropology from Texas Christian University. His graduate degrees are a M.A. and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of New Hampshire. He completed post-doctoral work at The University of Texas at Austin in Applied Industrial Psychology.

He has served on the boards of the Science Parks of Finland, the International Council for Small Business, the United States Association for Small Business & Entrepreneurship, the Family Enterprise Research Conference, and the Family Firm Institute where he is also a Fellow. He was on the start up team at People Express Airlines and Founding Director of CytoSignal, a biotech firm in California. He has helped to launch or grow over 200 technology firms world-wide.

Alan has co-authored four books and two case book publications on Family Firms in Transition: Case Studies on Succession, Inheritance, and Governance and Understanding Family Firms, Cases on the Management of Crises, Uncertainty and Change.

Join The Network of Family Businesses for this fascinating Webinar on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern Time, with Alan.

For additional information email: steve@netfamilybusiness.com

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Give Me, Give Me, Give Me

A Paraphrased Parable
From Luke 11:15 – 32

There once was a Father who had a very successful Family Business. This man had two sons, both of whom worked in the business. One day the youngest came to his Dad and stated that he believed that as a family member and as a key executive, he was worth more than he was being paid and therefore he wanted his share of the business now. He stated that as a family member, it was due him.

So Dad obliged, utilized the Line of Credit, and paid the youngest son. With his newfound fortune this young man traveled the world and lived a life of extravagance and leisure. Within a relatively short period of time, this young man spent the money he had been paid and found himself destitute in a country several continents away.

With no money and no place to live this young man took a job as a common laborer earning barely enough to keep a roof over his head. After telling his new boss he was worth much more than he was being paid, this new boss terminated his employment. Now this young man had no job, no place to stay, and hardly anything to eat. Realizing the staff and employees at his Father’s business had lodging and food and all their needs met, he decided to return to where he came from and seek employment back at his Father’s Business.

After manipulating his way back into the country and attempting to hitch hike from the airport back home, the police detained him. Because of the stature his Father had in the community, the Chief of Police contacted the Father and advised him of the situation. Dad, instead of sending the chauffer to pick the son up, went to the clothing store and bought his son a new suit and picked him up from the station and said, ‘Let’s go home son, we are going to have a party’.

Many CEOs of Family Businesses are not aware of what is best for their children and heirs. Frequently they guess at what to pay and blur the lines between their roles as an employer and their role as a parent. As a parent it is common to confuse a paycheck with a return on ownership and the emotion of wanting to provide the ‘best’ for your children. Unfortunately many children enter the family business with a sense of Give Me, Give Me, an attitude of entitlement that was nurtured at an early age. Begin at an early age of fair pay for work and a Compensation Policy that everyone in the Firm, both family and non-family, understand and abide by.

Our Business Compensation plan is Market Based and applies to Family members.

1.     We have a written compensation plan for our business.
2.     We have a written compensation plan for our family.
3.     Compensation for family employees is based on their job classification.
4.     We have accurate Job Expectations for each position.
5.     Our business conducts annual compensation audits.
6.     Our business subscribes to compensation surveys for our industry and within our locale.
7.     We clearly communicate our family compensation plan to each family member.
8.     There is Deferred Compensation plan for our key Executives and Officers.
9.     All family members on ‘payroll’ are actively contributing to the success of the business.
10.  We have a Compensation Committee that includes non-family.
11.  We clearly communicate our business compensation plan to each non-family employee.
12.  Salary increases and bonuses are made only when we are profitable.
13.  Non-Family employees have the same ability to utilize company assets or resources, such as vehicles etc., as do family employees.
14.  There is a process in place if an employee, family or non-family, does not agree with their compensation.
15.  Our business conducts annual performance review discussions with each employee, family and non-family.
16.  Additional perks are equally available to all employees in the appropriate tiers or categories – both family and non-family.
17.  Non-Family and family employees are compensated in the same manner.
18.  Family employees are expected to live within or below their financial means.
19.  Our compensation structure contributes to building the self-confidence of each individual.
20.  Our compensation and its structure is considered a strategic element of our overall business plan.

Incentives should be large enough to provide an occasion for celebrating success but not so large as to distort behavior. And incentives can include recognition and things other than money. Companies get themselves into trouble all the time by being too clever with their incentives.
Jeffrey Pfeffer

Monday, August 31, 2015

TheTop Nine Reasons Family Businesses Fail

With Wayne Rivers
Family Business Institute

The Top Nine Reasons Family Businesses Fail And The Eight Building Blocks for Creating a SUSTAINABLE Closely Held Company is a groundbreaking work based on decades of working with family and closely held companies.  Wayne has created a “how to” for not only surviving but PROSPERING over the years.  This discussion will challenge you to objectively assess where you are as a business and to push through the barriers, which keep you from reaching your dreams.  You’ll learn about:

• The top nine reasons family businesses fail
• What steps to take to survive the recession
• The MAGIC BULLET solution for simultaneously achieving better family harmony AND greater business success
• Why having a clearly defined vision is vital
• Why self-management is a challenge for the majority of entrepreneurs – and what to do about it
• Why it’s so hard to attract and retain talented people
• How to develop marketing and sales systems for taking your company to a new level
• How to better manage your business family to achieve maximum harmony
• Why “running the business” is a much more important element of success than you think it is

Read an Excerpt from Wayne’s Book:
The Top Nine Reasons Family Businesses Fail And The Eight Building Blocks for Creating a SUSTAINABLE Closely Held Company

Wayne Rivers: Wayne is the co-founder and President of The Family Business Institute, Inc.  He has
authored three books on the subject of business families:  The Top Nine Reasons Family Businesses Fail – And the Eight Building Blocks for Creating a SUSTAINABLE Closely Held Business, Prescriptions for a Healthy Family Business, and You Don’t Have To Die To Win – Success and Succession For Family Businesses.  Wayne has appeared on the TODAY show, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, "BusinessWeek: WEEKEND" and on the Retirement Living Network.  He is also a Wall Street Journal Expert Panelist.

Wayne has also been honored as a Fellow of the Family Firm Institute with the designation of ACFBA – Advanced Certificate in Family Business Advising.

Join The Network of Family Businesses for this Webinar on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern Time, with Wayne.

                                                                        For additional information email: steve@netfamilybusiness.com

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Can a Business Exit Plan Make You Happy?

With Emrich M. Stellar Jr., ChFC, CLU, CBEC
Stellar Advisor

Owning and running a successful privately-held business is a constant challenge that is full of obstacles and opportunities. It is pretty well understood that putting your business (and personal) plan down in writing tends to increase the chances of achieving them. However, what is less often discussed is how you might feel when you apply a high level of discipline to planning the future. If, in fact, you value the freedom and financial benefits of owning a privately-held business, then it is also likely that you place a high emphasis on not only what the business can provide to you but how you feel about the business and its future.

By thinking ahead Business Owners and Business Families can make a significant impact for their heirs. Families need leadership and creativity through a facilitated conversation about multigenerational planning to learn their options for business and family governance.

We have all seen the decisions that can create a “Family Story” or a “Family Secret”. Achieving security, harmony, and a great “Family Story” is a major goal for the hard work that needs to be done.

With all the various attributes of what may or may not make a business owner happy, where does disciplined planning fit in?

Emrich M. Stellar Jr., ChFC, CLU, CBEC: Since 1989 Emrich has been practicing the “Serve
First” philosophy of seeking to understand before seeking to be understood. Emrich and his team provide leadership and creativity in the areas of Business, Estate, Wealth Management, and Charitable Planning. His commitment to client objectives starts with understanding the aspirations his clients have for their families and businesses. He assesses and maximizes clients’ unique abilities to help solve those “3 AM Questions” thereby enabling them to add real value to the process.

Credentials and Experience are important, but Emrich often refers the old adage, “You won’t care how much I know until you know how much I care.” This is why he sees his career as a “calling.”

Join The Network of Family Businesses for this Webinar on Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern Time, with Emrich.

                                                                        For additional information email: steve@netfamilybusiness.com

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ghosts and Secrets in the Family Business

With Gerard J. Donnellan, PhD
Big Leap Family Business Advisors

"Each family has its own colorful and compelling history. Buried deep in that history, many times, are family secrets, the "ghosts of the past". These ghosts, be they the long-shadow of the founder, lost, disinherited or forgotten members of the family or long-decayed family values and culture, have unseen and powerful effects on the family system. These spirits take many forms and guises, but they all share one common element: they hold power and sway over otherwise mostly normal people."

"These "hauntings" make themselves present in un-ending family conflict, lost riches and the decline of the family business."

Gerard J. Donnellan, PhD, is an organizational consulting psychologist and family business advisor. He is trained as a Clinical Psychologist and Psychoanalyst.

Gerry works with owners of closely-held businesses and senior level leaders on issues such as succession planning, development of senior management, and family business issues. He provides executive coaching and assessment for professional development. He is an adjunct Professor at Boston College, where he teaches Organizational Behavior. He developed and introduced the first family business course in the MBA at Brandeis University International Business School. He has held university faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School and the City University of New York.  He holds the Advanced Certificate in Family Business Advising by the Family Firm Institute (FFI) and is a Fellow of FFI. He is a frequent presenter at FFI conferences.

He is the founder of Big Leap, a company which utilizes innovative techniques for organization development in family businesses, public companies and non-profits.

His widely acclaimed book, Who Will Drive the Bus? Guidance for Developing Leaders in the Family Enterprise (on Amazon), is used by families and their businesses worldwide.

Join The Network of Family Businesses for this Webinar on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern Time, with Gerry.

                                                                        For additional information email: steve@netfamilybusiness.com

Monday, June 1, 2015

Guiding A Family Business Through Change

With Kiki McShane & Chris Fucci

Regardless of the business you are in, or the transitions you experience, there are three key building blocks to creating optimum solutions to move forward, navigate change and lead with an eye toward long term success; Purpose, Vision and Mission. These foundation building blocks serve different roles AND are interdependent. Purpose, Vision and Mission are instrumental in developing a creative, caring and committed culture vital to effective leadership and business success.

As a business grows and moves through its life cycle, there is the risk that the corporate culture may lose its understanding of Purpose and that the understanding of the founder’s intention for starting the business may become blurred.

Purpose Vision and Mission are vital to forming and leading a culture that is creative, committed and caring.

Kiki McShane: Kiki is the President/Managing Director FarVision.
As part of the FarVision team, Kiki works with leaders of Entrepreneurial companies, helps design core business teams, facilitates the effective use of creative conflict and increases an organization’s capacity for healthy, planned growth. Kiki began her career in business consulting and organizational development with the Adizes Institute in Santa Monica, CA. She then co-founded her own firm, Corporate Transitions, Inc. in Miami, FL. where she worked with numerous internationally renowned companies and several YPO chapters, facilitating their strategic planning retreats. Kiki received a BA cum laude, from Boston College in Spanish and Secondary Education and her MA from Texas A&M University, in Education/Psychology.

Chris Fucci: Vice President FarVision.
Mr. Fucci began his professional career in his family’s real estate development company in 1974 as an entry-level associate and reached the position of president and majority shareholder in the mid-1980s. Over the next 20 years he successfully reorganized the family owned companies and sold them in 2000. Chris is currently the President of Chris Fucci Associates. Chris has consulted with a number of independent and family owned businesses, structured mergers and acquisitions and led successful financial restructuring and business sales. He is currently on the Assembly of Overseers for Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and a member of the Castleton College Gridiron Club. Chris received his BA cum laude from Boston College in Political Science.

Join The Network of Family Businesses for this Webinar on Thursday, June 25, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern Time, with Kiki and Chris.

                                                                        For additional information email: steve@netfamilybusiness.com

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

It's Time To Defuse Your Buy-Sell Agreement

With T. Eric Blocher &  Greg M. Lowe
McKonly & Asbury

Many businesses operate under the terms of a buy-sell agreement. Chances are that, as a business owner, you should have a buy-sell agreement. It is a prudent business practice. But here is the catch, most buy-sell agreements don’t work or won’t work as intended. The reasons why they don’t work are varied but typically include one or more reasons. A buy-sell agreement is usually ratified when a business begins. It is filed away and often forgotten.

Over time, the business, its ownership, purpose, and operations can change. The buy-sell agreement is rarely amended to include changes addressing these issues. The good news is that it is not too late to fix your buy-sell agreement!

Eric Blocher is a Principal with McKonly & Asbury with over 24 years of public accounting experience. He has oversight responsibilities for audits, reviews, and compilations for a wide range of service providers. As the leader of the valuation team, Mr. Blocher has over 17 years of business valuation consulting experience. He has been instrumental in developing a successful valuation service providing valuation and litigation support services. He has valued more than 150 closely held businesses in various industries including: professional services, real estate, manufacturing, retail, food services, automotive dealerships, and others.

Greg M. Lowe is Chief Operating Officer with McKonly & Asbury, overseeing the operational management of the firm. Most recently, he served as President of the IT services division of Intellimark/Technisource, a large national information systems consulting and outsourcing company, with over 600 employees and offices in multiple states. Prior to joining IntelliMark, Mr. Lowe held several leadership positions in sales and service with companies in the information technology and packaged foods industries.

McKonly & Asbury is a current corporate sponsor of the S. Dale High Family Business Center at Elizabethtown College

Join The Network of Family Businesses for this in-depth Webinar on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern Time, with Eric Blocher and Greg Lowe.

 For additional information email: steve@netfamilybusiness.com