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Is Your Family a Liability to Business Value?

“We want you to be part of our family” is the common accolade. “We want to think of you as one of our children and we hope you feel the same. Make yourself at home and we will treat you like one of our own.”

To be considered a part of the family is a compliment in any social setting. You have standing. You can be counted upon and you can expect the benefit of the doubt. The more perceived social, political or financial power imputed to a family, the greater the compliment. Within the family business realm, being told you are a member of the family generally creates an immediate feeling of prestige reflective of the depth and breadth of the family’s business.

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Aging Parents? What is Guardianship and Why You Should Do Everything to Avoid It

Many of us have moved from home and have ageing parents at a distance. This distance does not impact our love or concern. We stand ready to fly in and provide care and attention in the event of the inevitable needs or challenges associated with ageing.  Beware of vermin lying in wait for good intended children endeavoring to attend to parents at a distance!  Specifically, as I have personally experienced over the last six years with my Mom and Dad several states away in N. C. from which hopefully you can avoid problems associated with long distance guardianship or probate. 

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What You Should Know About a Long Distance Probate

The challenges and opportunities of careers have moved many of us away from home. Many of us continue to enjoy going back for a dose of that unconditional parental love and to hang with old friends.  However over time, we become aliens in our home towns unable to relate to an environment that does not seem to keep up with time. Furthermore, as many of us have learned, there are challenges associated with attending to ageing parents from a distance.

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Family Business Issues: Love, Tough Love and Letting Go

“Loyd I have tried tough love and it did not work.”

Such was the frustrated, emotional exclamation of an 83 year old business owner trying to deal with a 58 year old son who was apparently acting like a teenager. According to the explanation, irrespective of pleads by his parents who were technically in control of the business, the son would spend from the family’s business on his personal desires and wants. Based upon the dad’s description, the son stepped across the line one day and could not tell the difference between the reasonable and the ridiculous.

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The Gift That Can Keep On Giving for A Lifetime, By Denise Ware

It is Christmastime! A time where traditions of warm apple cider, eggnog, milk and cookies for Santa, fruit cake, candy canes, gingerbread houses, Yuletide Carols and various traditions that have been handed down through generations. Family members look forward to Christmas with excitement and anticipation, especially the little ones with great expectations. A big part of Christmas is the gift giving that occurs among family and friends. You spend a great deal of time and money to pick out just the right gift for that special someone. Sometimes when it is difficult to find the perfect gift, gift giving becomes a burdensome chore. This year we have the ideal solution for your gifts to family.

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Why Family Governance Should Not be Overlooked

In my first post on this issue I said that the reason for exploring family dynamics is precisely because family issues compel business decisions. I just got off an hour long phone conversation with a client regarding generational attitude differences between her generation and the 3rd generation family member employees. The mental health issue that has brought this to the forefront is that one of the G3 family members just admitted himself, at the urging of other family members, into a drug rehab facility.

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Dig Deep Into Family Dynamics - There May Be A Mental Health Issue At Play

Not too long ago a client asked, after our initial review of the family succession planning environment, where his family stood on the weirdness scale. Well, weirdness is not really the issue, but optimization of human functioning and relationships is of paramount importance. The reason I tell clients that we pry into family dynamics is precisely because family issues compel business decisions. Little did I know 8 years ago when I entered succession planning for family owned businesses as a career how helpful my background as a professional counselor would be. In my next three posts I’ll describe several scenarios and the impact on the business planning environment.

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How to Move Family Dynamics from "Good to Great"

Books like Built to Last and Good to Great offer a recipe for successful business performance.  There are now millions of people talking about big hairy audacious goals that can be accomplished by putting the right people in the right seat on the right bus. 

If your primary goal in life is business success, then these books – and others like them – should definitely be on your reading list.  By reading them, you will either confirm your belief in how to manage and lead your business or deny them.

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How to Align Business with Family Goals

A few weeks ago I met a prospective client who happened to be in business with three of their siblings. Two of the family members are in their mid forties and two are in their mid fifties. They have done a fantastic job of giving birth to and developing a successful business over the past twenty years. However, they have reached a point in their business life where they are struggling with what to do next. After spending approximately two hours with this family, it became clear to me that they have been working in opposite directions. Each family member was doing what they thought was important for the business, not necessarily what is in the long term best interest of the company. Thus, one of my conclusions was, “your vision is in need of an alignment.”

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How to Avoid Your Family Business From Becoming a Sinking Ship

Last night was a great night for watching movies about righting sinking ships.  First, I saw a few minutes of Pirates of the Caribbean.  I tuned in just as Captain Jack Sparrow and the rest of the crew were running back and forth from starboard to port in an effort to right the ship and return to the land of the living. 

Then came the Titanic, the ship that couldn’t be sunk.  Unless, of course, it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic.  As the band played, passengers on that ship also got caught up in running back and forth.  For most of them, the outcome was tragic.

Sometimes, we see similar things happen with families, especially when one or both parents try to run the family like it’s an extension of the business or run the business like it’s an extension of the family.  In either scenario, there’s lots of running around and rearranging of the deck chairs; and it’s almost always damaging and sometimes fatal to relationships.

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In-Laws - You Can be a Positive or Negative Force, Your Choice!

The second step to navigating the role of an in-law in the family business environment is to seek to understand the family’s unwritten laws -  if you don’t know them, you will not know whether you are about to break them.  Knowing the laws allows you to discover how to best live within them, and potentially even have a positive influence on those laws over time. However, you must understand as an in-law that no one has asked you to come in and be the rescuer and change all of the dysfunctional dynamics that occur in your spouse’s family.

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Beating the Odds: Four Building Blocks to Create Change

recent survey of 3,199 business owners and executives indicates that only about 30 percent of programs addressing “change” succeed.  Where 30 percent sounds low, that is considerably higher than the success rate of programs addressing generational changes of business ownership or succession.  If both programs involve managing new behaviors, why is the success rate for one so much higher than the other?

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3 Keys to Inspire Change

There are four building blocks that serve as cornerstones for successful change and, by extension, successful business and family transitions.  These four are:  Inspiration; Stake in the Game; Tools; and, Feedback.

A truly rational person, Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, relies on common sense to convince others to move in a certain direction.  This approach, with all its logical merits, often results in misdirected resources of people, time, money, and unintended consequences for one simple reason.

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Goals: Turn Them Into Reality

We probably all know a lot of people and businesses with bold, audacious goals.  Some of them get accomplished.  Some of them don’t.  What happens to those that don’t?

After years of working with individuals, families, and various types of business organizations, I have come to the conclusion that people who realize their goals have a plan for doing so.  They are not content to be “dreamers”; they focus instead on being “doers”.

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Down Economy...Could This Be the Opportunity of a Lifetime?

There is no question, we are in one of the most difficult economies we have faced in decades with oil prices through the roof, rising steel prices, housing market collapse, inflation concerns, political uncertainty, and the list goes on. Surely I do not have to elaborate any further as your business is likely feeling the impact. A decline in profitability is almost never a good thing…that is, unless you are looking to transfer equity in your business to a family member. This indeed could be an opportunity of a lifetime!

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Business and Family Success - Can You Have Both?

One of the mantras around our offices concerns the health of interpersonal relationships in a family owned business.  It’s quite simple, and I really like it.  Are you ready?  Here it is:  No business success is worth a family failure.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that everyone’s family, my own included, experiences some level of dysfunction.  It can be anywhere from somewhat comical to outright tragic.  Imagine reaching a high level of business and financial success only to learn that your spouse wants a divorce and your children don’t want to be around you. 

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Recipe for Success

Recently I had the privilege of attending a business Hall of Fame induction ceremony in the Midwest for one of my clients and several other business owners and leaders in his community. While each of the inductees had diverse business experiences and backgrounds, they shared several common traits which include: developing and articulating their vision, passion, humility, supportive families, winning attitude, innovative, surrounded themselves with the right people and promoted teamwork. These individuals knew where they wanted to go and were relentless in their pursuit to achieve excellence in their business and also giving back to their community. After hearing each of the individuals speak, it was apparent to me that the common traits listed above could be a recipe for success in your business as well.

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Compensation Plans for Family Member Employees

Most parents contend they love all their children equally, so naturally they want to treat them equally (which I can appreciate as a parent of three boys). However, there is a distinction that should be made regarding an equal estate distribution and equal compensation. Let’s face it, every person is blessed with a unique personality, unique talents and unique skill sets. Furthermore, every individual is motivated by different things. Doesn’t it stand to reason that individuals (including family members) should be compensated based upon what they do rather than who they are? I submit to you they should!

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Family Dynamics and Business Performance - How Closely Are They Related?

In my previous two posts, "How to Find Balance Between Family and Business"  and "How to Achieve Balance Between the Family and the Business," I discussed two of the three steps great and enduring families engage in:

  1. They establish balance between family and business priorities.

  2. They work hard to convey this balance to and through the next generation.

  3. They pursue Succession Success.

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How to Achieve Balance Between the Family and Business

In my last post, "How to Find Balance Between Family and Business," I suggested that there are three things that great and enduring family businesses do:

  1. They are dedicated to creating a balance between family and business priorities.

  2. They proactively encourage and are dedicated to the family’s cohesive, supportive values that promote family and business balance.

  3. They achieve Succession Success.

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