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Helping Family Businesses
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David Karofsky Joins FBCG Ownership Group

“We are proud to announce that David Karofsky has become part of our ownership team,” said Steve McClure, principal owner and chair of The Family Business Consulting Group. “David has been an active contributor to our firm in many ways, including collaborating with many of us on client work, enhancing and expanding FBCG's consulting tools and most recently, helping our team pivot to respond to current client needs.”


Aligning the Family Enterprise: Should We Meet In-Person or Virtually?

To support you and your family business systems as you review and consider this decision, we offer the following framework: • Factors to consider in making this decision, and; • An outline of fair process to use as you come to a consensus decision


Remote Togetherness: Leveraging the Role of Virtual Meetings in Family Business

Communication is critical to family business and during this pandemic being proactive in communicating while we are dealing with physical isolation is more important than ever. If you haven’t already started, we recommend that you give video meetings a serious try and strive to run them in a way that complements and even enhances your family and business culture. We encourage you to get creative and use them in ways you never thought you would.


Doug Gray Joins The Family Business Consulting Group

The Family Business Consulting Group welcomes Doug Gray, Ph.D. as its newest consultant specializing in leadership development, succession planning and building family unity in enterprising families. He assists family-owned firms and leadership teams with assessments and strategic solutions that leverage his expertise in positive psychology, outcome-based consulting, executive coaching, conflict resolution, family meeting facilitation and succession planning.


The Five Fundamental Building Blocks of Strong Family Businesses

I believe there are five fundamental building blocks of family business that must be learned and consistently revisited in order to give the business the best chance for success.


Family Enterprise Superpowers Offer Strength in Tumultuous Times

Strong family firms succeed across the generations because of a commitment and ability to grow through adversity. They reinvent their businesses when industries change. They harvest and redeploy assets in family offices as good stewards of what they have been given. They create foundations to direct their wealth into important initiatives that benefit us all. These are the results of special characteristics shared by family enterprises around the world.


Leading Your Family Business During a Crisis

It is always lonely at the top – and never more so than when confronting difficult decisions that impact many people. Lean into the support networks you have developed – from your board to your management team to your family and friends. Make sure you are taking care of yourself so that you are able to bring your best thinking and communicating to the important role you are playing.


From the Front Lines of Family Business: Responding to the Coronavirus Crisis

Michael Fassler, one of our principal consultants recently shared this story of one client’s response to the Coronavirus Crisis. This is a family business in the construction business with approximately 60 employees. The CEO, like many of our clients, reports an unprecedented challenge.


Drawing Closer While Keeping Your Distance

We are living through a crisis and social distancing is the best coping response we now have. But I am concerned about the long-term impact on our families not only of the crisis itself, but the impact of our steps to cope. That’s because all families cope with crises in one of two ways: either by coming together or by coming apart.


Getting into the Horizontal Box: Aligning Family Business Owners

In order for changes to occur in the organization, the sisters must begin to look at their family business not from the vertical perspective of finance, operations and sales but rather from the horizontal perspective of family ownership. This will help Tina, Brenda and Jen to think across business lines and make decisions, as owners, for what is best for the business.


FBCG's Commitment to a Culture of Collegiality and Shared Learning

From its founding, The Family Business Consulting Group was intended to be a connected community of highly skilled and collegial practitioners dedicated to the service of family enterprise around the world.


Honoring Our Founder’s Mission Since 1895

The family business has evolved through the years and seen significant growth. And throughout all the changes, the one constant has been our family’s mission of preserving Biltmore as a privately owned, profitable, working estate.


The Generational Push and Pull of Defining Today’s Family

How the family is defined becomes even more relevant when creating your family council, writing your value statements, deciding who can and cannot be shareholders and determining who can serve on boards for your business entities.


The Family Business Consulting Group Announces Planned Leadership Transitions

The Family Business Consulting Group’s board of directors has appointed Kristi Daeda as the firm’s new president to lead the organization’s operational and strategic initiatives. Drew Mendoza, managing principal since 1999, will focus entirely on guiding prospective client families to the right resources in his new role as senior advisor.


The Important Role of a Leadership Continuity Committee

According to The Family Business Consulting Group’s co-founder John Ward, a founding goal of our firm was to model the best of what we learned from the most successful family enterprises that we had come to know -- to practice what we preach. “We hoped to build a business for the long term and aspired to indefinite continuity,” he explained.


FBCG Interview: Succession Isn't an Event, It's a Process

The Family Business Consulting Group has navigated many of the same challenges our clients confront in designing our own leadership succession. Executive editor of The Family Business Advisor Otis Baskin interviewed former managing principal Drew Mendoza and new president Kristi Daeda about their experiences of the transition process.


Looking at Family Business Trends with 2020 Vision

One benefit we experience from having 25 consultants who have worked in 70+ countries with over 2,500 business-owning families is the opportunity to spot emerging trends in our field. Through daily interactions, we keep an up-to-date sense of our clients’ headaches and heartaches. By identifying the trends in these challenges then working together to understand the opportunities they bring with them, we gain insights and knowledge to help our clients prosper across generations.


Uncommon Wisdom on Welcoming Newcomers to Enterprising Families

Clients often ask how they can be more purposeful in making new family members feel welcome not only within their families, but also at family meetings where business and family information is shared. In response, this article outlines approaches used by families who regularly meet to discuss their business interests, usually in the form of family meetings or family council meetings.


The Importance of Honoring Milestones

A unique strength of family businesses is that they often focus as much on the triumphs and challenges of generations past as their aspirations for generations to come. Many family companies see anniversaries as opportunities to reflect on their history and values. We share how The Family Business Consulting Group commemorated its 25th anniversary in August 2019.


Fun with a Purpose: How Highlights Magazine Celebrated its 60th Anniversary

Highlights partnered with the United States Postal Service to deliver the one-billionth copy of Highlights magazine to a young subscriber in Dallas, Texas. The girl and her family were presented with the one-billionth copy during a special party celebrating the 60th anniversary of Highlights magazine attended by other children from the Dallas area.


Successful Family Directors Are Not Born, They Are Planned and Developed

Even families with well-established professional boards that include capable independent directors, good board processes and value-added meetings will run into challenges around the role of family with the board of directors. Let’s consider some of these issues to highlight the underlying dilemmas and trade-offs that may need to be considered when determining the right path for your own family’s board.​


10 Tips and Ideas for a Successful Company Anniversary

We’ve had the honor of interviewing more than 80 executives who embraced the challenges and opportunities that come with leading an anniversary campaign. They have openly shared lessons learned about what worked, what didn’t, and why.


Avoid the Pitfall of Systemic Uncertainty When Making Decisions About Shared Family Assets

Whether the assets consist of an operating business, a portfolio of invested securities, a family foundation, real estate holdings or other shared holdings, this ownership transition, involving a shift from a single controlling owner with a single voice in decision making, to potentially many family owners with many voices in decision making, could introduce a level of systemic uncertainty into the family system.


Risk Management: A Multi-Faceted Challenge

Risk management should be considered part of the strategic planning process, versus a distinct initiative. It is not a separate project. Awareness of what risks you face in your business, and a process for mitigating those risks lead to better-informed decisions and increases the likelihood of realizing your strategic goals.


Barb Dartt Joins FBCG Ownership Group

“It is with great pleasure and much enthusiasm that the owners announce and welcome Barb Dartt as our newest owner and partner,” said Steve McClure, principal owner and chair of The Family Business Consulting Group.


The Family Business Consulting Group Welcomes Tom Emigh

Tom Emigh is a consultant with The Family Business Consulting Group motivated by Mission, Values and Leadership. He is passionate about helping family businesses pursue a successful and compelling mission through developing individuals and owning families to become better at everything they do.


Should We Hold, Sell or Consolidate Ownership of the Family Business? Navigating the Discussion and Decision Process

The long-term vision of multi-generational continuity of the family’s business is a common topic among our client families. Inevitably, the challenging discussion around “Should we hold, sell or consolidate ownership of the family business?” comes up among family members. What defines success is different for every family, but a key ingredient for both business continuity and family harmony is for family shareholders to be aligned in their vision for the family enterprise.


Family Businesses Need Legal Documents that Go Beyond Estate Plans

The best legal advice for any family business owner is always specific to the needs of the individuals and their business. Taking into consideration how the actions of any owner will impact the others. Planning for the continuity of family wealth and an operating business that can continue to generate wealth for generations to come requires more than tax efficiency.


Aileen Miziolek Joins The Family Business Consulting Group

Aileen Miziolek is a consultant with The Family Business Consulting Group specializing in continuity planning for family businesses and thoughtful transfer of intergenerational wealth. She works closely with families and leadership teams, supporting them in navigating the complexities that make family business, as well as life and wealth transitions, challenging.


What Comes First: Entitlement or Enablement?

When that person is a part of a family business, the sense of entitlement can wreak havoc in the enterprise. Perhaps that person feels entitled to a C-suite position they haven’t earned. Maybe they don’t want a job at all – just distributions. But where it really gets sticky is when the entitled family member makes assumptions or demands about their position with respect to leadership or ownership.


Team Building in the Next Generation: Preparing Future Leaders

Vulnerability, trust, shared experience, familiarity and education are essential for fostering successful teams within the next generation. With proper planning and attention to these elements, families can support the development of strong next-gen teams. Stronger next-gen teams produce committed ownership groups and deeper commitment to family values.


Stephanie Brun de Pontet Joins FBCG Ownership Group

“It is with great pleasure and much enthusiasm that we welcome Stephanie as our newest owner and partner,” announced Stephen McClure, principal consultant. “She has long been a leading contributor to our firm’s growth, internal processes, intellectual leadership, camaraderie and most important: high-value services to our clients. Her well-deserved addition to the ownership group will be felt for years to come as FBCG advances its mission of helping family firms prosper across generations.”


Succeeding at Succession

What’s essential in each generation is to ask and answer: What is the purpose of our proactively engaging as an extended family? Of staying together as family enterprise owners? To what extent, if any will family members be engaged in business leadership? Business can be a means of achieving family purpose, but it is not the purpose itself.


The Dark Side of Being Too Generous to Family Employees

To address this unsustainable approach, the next generation can lead the challenging work of unwinding the family-driven, need-based “structure” by creating a rational, professional and objective compensation approach. The shift in behaviors means addressing tough issues like quantifying the different levels of value family employees bring to the business, personal financial responsibility, lifestyle expectations and employee performance.


Attracting Top Board Talent: The Power of the Board Prospectus!

Whoever sits around the boardroom table of a family business wields tremendous influence on the performance and continuity of that family business. Therefore, selecting board members – both family members and independents – is a crucial step in getting the right mix of talent around that table to help achieve this feat. The development of a board prospectus brings family owners and executives into alignment.


Good Governance for Family and Business Success

Whether it is creating a board for the first time, or evolving how an existing board operates, implementing good governance can be integral to protecting relationships and the viability of the family’s enterprise. In our experience, board evolution generally proceeds from “paper boards” that never actually meet to family boards composed of family owners to boards with both family owners and non-family independent directors.


Predictable Yet Not Inevitable: Archetypes of Potential Conflicts in the Family Enterprise

Whether brought on by growth, succession, paradox or poorly informed assumptions, building awareness of the system patterns that commonly develop within the family enterprise is a step in the right direction to proactively anticipate predictable conflicts in a way that diffuses their inevitability. ​

Family meeting questions

Dear Family Business Advisor: Answers to Top Questions about Family Meetings

Getting the family together is simultaneously one of the most joyful occasions in the life of a family business and one of the most terrifying meetings a family can plan. It has long been a recommended “best practice” for all enterprising families. Our colleagues Craig Aronoff and John Ward placed holding regular family meetings among the two most important steps a family business owner can take to ensure continuity.


Building a Foundation for Multigeneration Success: How Enterprising Families Become Champion Families

Champion families have a tremendous amount to teach us about how they have achieved their success across generations. By looking at aspects of your leadership, purpose, values, governance, education, communication and relationships, you can create a strategic plan with your family that fosters the development of each of these vital areas. Acting proactively and with intention can help families who are in business together truly become Champion Families.


Hop on Board: Integrating New Directors with a Continuous Onboarding Process

Good boards are the foundation of good corporate governance and the sustainer of trust in a business-owning family. The foundation of good boards is thoughtful and thorough onboarding of new members, both family and independent, each time they are added. Embracing the above steps will not guarantee that a new member will be a success… but, careful attention to the way new members are brought into either an existing or new board will support their efforts to add value for all owners.


Getting the Right Mix of Family Members and Independents for a High-Performance Family Business Board

A cornerstone of effective family business governance is developing strong boards of directors. One board factor that correlates with family business performance and continuity is the addition of outside independent directors. Another factor that has not received as much attention, is the importance of developing family members into strong directors, capable of complementing the independent outside directors. FBA July 2018


Empathy and Expectations in Family Businesses: What We Can Learn From Twins

Twins teach us that we are all different and that it takes work to develop empathy and manage expectations. The rewards are worth it though because we can better our families, our businesses, and ultimately the world.


The Family Business is Not a Life Sentence

For many of us, being a part of our family’s business is a deeply fulfilling experience. But for others, a career with the family can feel like a life sentence without parole. In my work as a family business consultant, I’ve been called in to advise in many instances in which the fit between individual and family business just wasn’t right. And while the ideal is finding a way to make it work for everyone, sometimes that’s just not possible.


Integrated Family Business Governance: The Important Role of Ownership

Owners who are serious about, and committed to, their roles as stewards have a fundamental responsibility to drive and oversee the governance structures and processes of the family and the business to ensure communication and education in the family system and independence and accountability in the business system.


A Founder Dies

Due to the complex network of roles and relationships in a family enterprise, a founder’s death brings with it a set of unique challenges for enterprising families. In working with business families and families of wealth over the past 20 years, I have noted a few apparently repetitive dynamics that emerge in some families when their patriarchs die.


Manage Change Better in Your Family Enterprise

Whether transitioning to new business, changing governance leadership, managing the aftermath of a long-anticipated liquidity event, or moving from centralized family leadership to governance that includes more voices, business families must learn to anticipate and confidently handle change. Change management principles are not new; yet there are special considerations when applying them to a business family.


From Leadership to….? Planning for a meaningful future when you are no longer at the helm

Because the work we do with enterprising families is often centered around helping them focus on important planning for the future, we often see how urgent matters can make this longer-term planning difficult to prioritize. One aspect of longer-term continuity planning that is often underdeveloped is the planning leader’s need to make plans for their own personal continued sense of fulfillment and joy when they are no longer in a daily leadership role in the business.


Selecting Board Members: Guidelines for an Effective Nominating Process

We all want the same results. All family businesses want to build enterprise value, protect family relationships, and maintain continuity through generations. The right board of directors (qualified, trustworthy, and objective) is a key factor in those results. But how do you assure you have the right directors, and that they will be trusted and respected by owners and management? A well-designed nominating process is key to getting the right people in place.


Family Owner Development -- The Foundation for Continuity

Providing your family’s enterprise with the competitive advantage of an effective owner team requires foresight and the commitment of significant family resources to both the planning and delivery of development opportunities. The good news is that despite a daunting list of competencies required, if you start early, you have plenty of time to influence potential owners.


Family Business Employment Policies: Evening the Playing Field for the Next-Generation

“Family employment policy” may sound formal and intimidating, when in reality, it takes away some of the stress that arises in a business in transition and sets the next generation up for success. At its basic level, it is an agreement on the general principles and guidelines surrounding the development of the next generation and their involvement in the family business. It is simply a roadmap. A sound family employment policy addresses the following key areas.


Four Generations, One Workforce: Valuing Generational Differences in a Family Business

While these multiple generations affect all of society, they are having an especially unique impact on family businesses. The ongoing struggle between honoring tradition and pioneering change is playing out as Traditionalists and Baby Boomers try to maintain the family business values and guiding principles, while X-gens and Millennials seek more rapid change, particularly in the culture of the workplace.​


Why Wait? The Financial and Emotional Rewards of Philanthropic Giving

Enterprise-owning families work for generations to build their wealth but most do not invest the time to plan for transferring it effectively. By Jennifer Pendergast and guest contributor Bo Wilkins FBA August 2017

FBCG Next Gen Education

Family Business Education for the Next Generation

The goal of family business education for the next generation is acquiring collective wisdom that could last centuries. That’s why the time and the effort to provide it are so worthwhile for the family and the business.


What Do Family Councils Do?

Family Councils initiate activities and perform duties to achieve very important outcomes – helping families achieve their missions and visions with great purpose.

Back to the future of your family business

Back to the Future - of Your Family Business

“Are family businesses often forced down a path as a result of past unresolved conflict in the family?” As I thought more about this, I suddenly remembered the scene in the movie Back to the Future II where Doc Brown is explaining the space/time continuum path to Marty McFly, and how his going back to 1955 in the first movie disrupted the universe: “Our only chance to repair the present is in the past, at the point where the timeline skewed into this tangent.”


Delivering a Difficult Message: Performance Feedback in a Family Business

For most people in most situations, delivering a difficult message is, well, difficult. Delivering a difficult message in a family business is typically even more challenging because of the multiple and deeply personal relationships that exist. Difficult messages must be delivered, though, and avoiding this task will likely only make matters worse. By David Ransburg


Why the World Needs Family Business Consultants

An excellent family business consultant is probably the only advisor you’ll work with who considers how family, management, ownership and governance impact each other on a day-to-day basis and is able to create a safe place to openly and creatively consider how these four necessary business systems uniquely and powerfully affect your family and your enterprise.


Solving the Puzzle of Ownership Alignment in a Family Enterprise

Successful ownership alignment is a continuous process rather than an end or accomplishment in itself. The ever-evolving, complex life cycles of the business, family and individuals cause constant shifts in perspective, goals and interests over time that make true continuous alignment an elusive and dynamic pursuit. Ownership alignment is more like an ongoing cycle of seeking and building consensus, then having it fray and unravel only to rebuild it all over again. Wendy Sage-Hayward


Family Business Meetings: Proper Planning for Effective Results

From shareholder assemblies to family gatherings, when family members feel that the meetings are not a good investment of their time, they are less engaged and the outcome is often unproductive. The good news is that with thoughtful planning and orchestration before the meeting, the family can participate in effective dialogue together and produce meaningful results. By Joshua Nacht, Ph.D.


Is there value to having more than two independent directors serving on a family business fiduciary board?

Is there value to having more than two independent directors serving on a family business fiduciary board? We asked some of our top family business governance experts to share their advice and experiences. Family Business Boardroom newsletter


Seven Steps to Recruiting Value Add Independent Directors

Incorporating independent directors into a family firm’s board is considered one of the standards for family business success. The prospect of finding independent directors who can both challenge business leaders and represent ownership interests can be daunting. Following these seven steps will help identify directors who will add value to the family business enterprise. By Anne Hargrave | The Family Business Boardroom


Stewardship: A Very Practical Family Business Theory

In a family business, a stewardship climate is one in which individuals are more likely to be intrinsically rather extrinsically motivated, identify highly with the organization, and use personal, rather than positional, power. In addition, at the organizational level, family businesses displaying stewardship climate are those with a collectivist culture, rather than an individualistic culture, have a low power distance in their organizations and have a high involvement orientation. 1/11/17


Unsticking Succession: Common Obstacles and a Path Forward

This article arose from a specific question from a family enterprise leader: “I know that I have to plan for succession and I know everything I should be doing, but I’m not making any progress. How do I get unstuck?” Succession planning remains a critical focus for many family firms. We hope this review of a fundamental family business concern sparks some new thinking and some positive momentum to kick off your planning.


Budgeting for Family in the Family Business

We find that implementing a formal budgeting process for family work is valuable, regardless of whether these questions have been raised. Creating a budget engages the family, shareholders and management in a conversation that aligns them around its goals and priorities for the family and the business. It also makes explicit the investment is being made in family unity and shareholder development.


Co-CEO Structure: Are Two Heads Better than One in a Family Business?

The skills required to run a company continue to increase, and there is less margin for error when change is the norm and competitors respond to bad decisions at lightning speed. Co-leadership models have been used by family businesses for centuries, but not frequently. Today, that frequency is increasing. The purpose of this article is not to advocate or oppose a co-CEO model. Nor is it to provide empirical evidence for or against co-leadership; such evidence is scant and anecdotal at best.


How should family businesses cultivate and prepare the next generation for board service?

How should family businesses cultivate and prepare the next generation for board service? Advice from our governance experts Craig Aronoff, Otis Baskin and Kelly LeCouvie Originally appeared in The Family Business Boardroom, September 2016


Continuity Planning for Family Business Boards

Developing the qualifications for board members – both family board members and independent outside board members – is arguably the most important task to determine the ideal mix of board members. Originally published in The Family Business Boardroom Newsletter, September 2016

Family Wealth Continuity

Many wealth continuity plans lock people together providing few options for how money is to be managed, by whom and with which co-beneficiaries. While there are of course certain basic requirements of any effective financial structure, to the extent that options are available – to make personal financial decisions, to align with certain others or not, or even to exit – the structures will be strengthened and relationships enhanced.


In Praise of Peer Groups

As family business consultants, we often recommend that family owners join peer groups. After families have worked with a consultant to set up sound continuity plans for the leadership of the family as well as the business, there is something reassuring about meeting regularly with people who are facing the same challenges you are.


Introducing Teens and Young Adults to the Family Enterprise

The universal truth is the next generation always surpasses the preceding one. That is the nature of evolution. It is the responsibility of each generation to prepare the next to exceed them. In enterprising families, there are many facets to preparation: leadership, ownership, independence and stewardship. Skill development starts early with a very young child and continues on.


To Select or To Elect? Decision-Making Methods for Family Member Roles in Family and Business Governance

To be organized and productive, an enterprising family must have effective methods for decision making. Many families accomplish this through governing bodies, including a board of directors, a family council, committees, or task forces charged with addressing specific questions the family faces. Often, the method for choosing family members to serve in these governance roles is a decision with its own layer of complexity. Are representatives democratically elected or selected?


Dealing with Conflicts of Interest on a Family Business Board

In May 2016, 180 leaders from over 100 companies attended The Private Company Governance Summit in Washington, D.C. including FBCG senior consultant Stephanie Brun de Pontet who served as a panel moderator for the session “Dealing with Conflicts of Interest on Private Company Board.” The forum focused on how to create a clear distinction between a board member’s role on the board and the other roles they may plan within or for the company.


Should We Separate the Chair and CEO Roles in our Family Business?

Is a combined CEO/Chair function always the right structure? The answer becomes complicated in later generations, for bigger families, for those with more complex businesses and when governance is formalized. The opportunity to challenge tradition is while you are planning a leadership change or making significant changes to the board, such as increasing formality as with the addition of independent directors. It should also be a key question in your emergency succession plan.


Family Champions: Energy for Success

Business families require effective leadership throughout the system to fulfill their potential. A lot of attention goes to who will be the next leader of the business, and appropriately so. But there is another area in which leadership can bring great value to the family – the role of “family champion.” This person is a visionary catalyst who invests energy into the family-business system to support and develop the family-ownership advantage.


From Partners by Chance to Partners by Choice: The 7 Cs of Trust-based Partnerships

Sibling and cousin partnerships almost always come about by chance rather than choice. Sometimes, but not usually, these partnerships are formed because siblings and cousins want to be in business together. It makes good sense then for family business partners to take the time to re-constitute their partnerships around fundamental principles – what I call the 7 Cs of Trust-based Partnerships.


Ensuring that family business owners are strong contributors to the board

Owners on the board represent two distinct groups: owners who are employees of the family business, and those who are not. First, the role and responsibilities of directors need to be clarified. Owners should sit in the boardroom to serve on behalf of the full ownership group and not to represent their personal interests. As a director they have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the business is well-managed. To fulfill this responsibility, they must have a solid understanding of the dynamic​


Evolving Your Family Business Board

Family businesses that evolve their board structures to meet the growing needs of the family and business gain greater understanding and appreciation for complexities of the governance process as well as for how best to harness the board with regard to innovation and other key areas. Beyond the board’s form, several other dimensions are important to consider such as size, composition, rotation, retirement and evaluation.


Understanding Profitability in the Family Business

Mixing family and money in business can be confidently accomplished when families take the time to educate themselves on the concepts and key issues surrounding profitability, build forums to gain alignment on their goals, and set policies to clarify expectations on profitability related matters.


Should Spouses Work in the Family Business?

We know of many family firms that allow spouses to be employed in the business. Outcomes tend toward the positive when there is a strong drive towards accountability; when the person is highly qualified for the job; when performance goals are set and reviewed regularly and feedback is given; and when there are rules in place that prohibit one spouse working for another or spouses being in the same department.


Managing the Complexity of Human Resources in Family Firms

Because your business’s performance is so highly dependent on your people, HR is a crucial contributor to the superior performance of family firms. So, maximizing the effectiveness of your HR systems and practices will help maximize your performance across the board. The ideal role for HR is as a true champion of engagement of all firm resources, not just the human ones. In many firms, that will mean taking clear, practical steps to transition HR into a more strategic role.


Developing a Winning Strategy for Family and Business: The Parallel Planning Process

The parallel planning process, originally advanced by Randel Carlock and John Ward in “Strategic Planning for the Family and Business” (Palgrave, 2001), links these two powerful forces to recognize the real potential of family business. By helping both family and management create a business strategy that supports the interests of the family and the potential of the business, a powerful synergy can result.


Getting Started with Family Governance

Family governance is a process or structure to educate and facilitate communication between family members. It also provides a forum for constructive discussion, problem solving and decisions about the family as it relates to the business, as well as, how the business relates to the family.


Understanding the Differences Among Family Governance Forums

What is a family council and how does it differ from a family assembly or a family meeting? To help answer that question, below are brief definitions adapted from The Family Council Handbook that provide distictions among the different types of meeting forums.


What it Means to be an Investing Owner and Why it’s so Important

Owners have both a right and responsibility to ensure their investment performs well. If perpetuating the family business across generations is the family’s aspiration, owners need to ensure that the business will not only survive but thrive. Our experience is that families take great pride in holding productive discussions around expectations, precisely because they are difficult conversations to have.


How Board Evaluations Drive the Planning Process

One of the responsibilities of the board is to ensure there is a credible plan in place to guide the future of the business. Reviewing the planning process and plan content and holding management accountable to plan goals and timelines all fall within the purview of the board. The benefits of the planning process – clear goals, defined accountabilities, alignment of resources, prioritization of efforts, and ensuring focus on critical issues – apply to the board as well as management.


15 Lessons Family Councils Wish They Knew Before They Started

Whether you are just starting a Family Council or have had one for years, much can be gained by considering the lessons others have learned in making their Family Councils work. What follows are 15 guidelines Family Councils often wish they had known sooner.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Shared Vision and Effective Next-Generation Leaders: Two Sides of the Same Coin

By Stephen P. Miller, Ph.D. A survey of family business owners conducted a number of years ago by John Ward, co-founder of The Family Business Consulting Group, found that lack of a shared vision for the family business and weak next-generation leadership were two of the top three threats to long-term family firm success. John’s finding was one of the inspirations for my own research on developing next-generation leadership talent in family businesses.


"That's Not Fair!" Creating Compensation and Employment Policies

The question of how to compensate family members in a family business seems technical at first blush. Decisions about fixed and variable pay, benefits and incentives, stock options and perks, retirement and fair market value can seem overwhelming when mixed with the emotional energy of family relationships. But when viewed from the vantage point provided by the Owner’s Mentality, compensation for family members becomes another piece of a puzzle. A colorful, energizing, maddening family ​


Infusing Innovation into Family Business Strategy

By Joe Schmieder Developing strategies for a family business is tough work. Executing the strategies is even tougher. So how can a family business be expected to take planning to a new level? By infusing innovation into strategy!


Managing Risk in the Family Enterprise: It’s More than Financial

By Michael Fassler and Wendy Sage-Hayward When it comes to managing risk, it is important to ask: How does your family dimension impact your appetite for risk? How do you manage risk tolerance differences among family members? What process do you have in place to communicate decisions that may involve greater risk in order to build alignment and understanding within key stakeholders?


Risk Management Conversation Starter

By Michael Fassler and Wendy Sage-Hayward This tool is a guide to start the risk management conversation with your family ownership group and executive team. Analyze the answers looking for the areas of alignment on responses and the areas where there are divergent viewpoints. Use the results to prompt further discussion around your family enterprise risk appetite and development of your risk management framework.


Embracing Change and Honoring the Past: The Challenge of Family Business

By Stephanie Brun de Pontet, Ph.D. While we all understand that change is part of the natural order of things, few of us always embrace change - in particular significant change that we know, or fear, will have a big impact on our lives. It is human nature to resist change because it represents the unknown and the status quo is usually comfortable enough.


A planning guide for transforming your company’s board of directors

An effective board of directors that is strategic and productive can help to significantly strengthen not just the business, but in many respects, the family as well. In our work, we find an increasing number of families are recognizing the potential benefits of board development – the process of formalizing their board, and including independent directors, with the goal of deriving greater benefit from their governance efforts.


Decisions, Decisions: Creating and Governing a Sustainable Family Office

By Jennifer Pendergast, Ph.D. When a family office is set up, the primary goal often is to protect and grow family wealth by providing high-quality, dedicated services in a secure, confidential environment. For families with the level of wealth required to support the cost structure, the benefits of a family office are evident. What is less evident are the challenges families face when they take on the oversight of the office without the education and engagement required by the task.


Find the Best Independent Directors for Your Family Business

By Stephen L. McClure, Ph.D. Featured in Private Company Director, March 2015 Getting the most out of your independent directors involves knowing what to look for in prospective board members and understanding the unique family business areas where their guidance can be most useful.


Building Family Harmony Starts with Living Our Values

By Deb Houden, Ph.D. Family harmony is a critical component to a strong family business. Alignment in vision and values and strong commitment from family members helps business leaders to make tough decisions that will steer the company in an appropriate direction. Family harmony and competitive advantage can result from this alignment.


An Uncommon Thread of Success in Family Business

By David Ransburg In any family business, there are many moving parts and therefore multiple different levers for its leaders to pull when it comes to guiding the family enterprise. Often, the factors that impact a family business’s success are out of the family’s control such as broad economic forces, political events, illness and just plain luck. However, there are factors that are within the control of a family business.


Planning for Continuity in Family Business: Where, Oh Where, to Begin?

By Amy Schumann Whether you are just starting formal continuity planning, or have been planning and meeting for a period of time already, The Pyramid of Family Ownership Success can offer reassurance and guidance to your efforts. Consult the Pyramid and determine which part of the continuity planning process needs attention. By starting with a strong base, you will be able to enjoy and appreciate the benefits of governance policies and practices with minimal disruption.


The Competitive Advantage of Culture in a Family Business

By: Kelly LeCouvie, Ph.D. and Kent Rhodes,Ed.D. Culture must be nurtured and evolve over time to reflect industry changes and internal adaptation. Yet the underlying permanence of family values and beliefs creates stability that even through leadership transitions and industry upheavals persists. This is unique to family businesses, and a significant advantage.


Before "I Do!"  Premarital Agreement Considerations Long Before Popping the Question

By Christopher Eckrich and Anne Hargrave Business-owning families and families of wealth find that premarital agreements for new marriages amongst their descendants provide numerous benefits, including protection of legacy assets and protection of businesses in which ownership is often shared amongst a group of people.


The Family Office: How to Avoid "Latent Development Syndrome"

By David Lansky, Ph.D. and Anne Hargrave For many wealthy families, the family office serves as an interface between family members and the family's assets, providing services that enable responsible and comprehensive management of the family's wealth while concurrently providing for the development of family members in their roles as wealth owners and beneficiaries. In our capacity as advisors to wealthy families and their family offices.


Undiscussables: Dealing with the Elephants in Family Business

By Deb Houden, Ph.D. and Wendy Sage-Hayward Enterprising families often have rituals that bring joy, connectedness and stability to their members. Unfortunately, these families can also breed practices that are destructive to the cohesion of the clan. One such practice is the avoidance of difficult conversations, which over time creates taboo topics in a family, their businesses, or both. Often parents, children or others in the family or business do not


Family Business Leadership: The Importance of Versatility

By David Ransburg Running any business is hard, and the complexity of overlapping systems in a family business makes that environment particularly challenging. A family business leader’s response to a challenge will be influenced by all the roles he or she plays: CEO, owner, parent, spouse…


Please Welcome to the Stage, in their New Role...

By Stephanie Brun de Pontet To quote a classic rock song: "Who.... are you? Who, who, who, who..." - The Who It is hard to answer that question simply. Most of us play many roles: mother, lawyer, spouse, sibling, church elder, etc. There are roles we aspire to take on, such as business leader, and there are other roles we are stuck in by virtue of history or reputation, like the "difficult one." There are still more roles we earn or are assigned, like doctor or "peace maker."


Letting Go, Stepping Up: Leadership in Transition

By Chris Eckrich Leadership transitions in a family business are influenced by and affect a lot of stakeholders. How each stakeholder perceives the process-and their role within it-will have an impact on outcomes. Perhaps the two stakeholders who often play the most central roles in this process are the incumbent, or controlling, CEO and his or her successor.


Accountability in the Family Business: Creating a Culture for Success

Accountability is a regular discussion topic with our family business clients. When accountability is alive and well, individuals, the family and the business may share in success. When accountability is mostly non-existent, however, a pervasive attitude of entitlement may exist that can lead to the demise of the business and perhaps the unraveling of family bonds.


Developing Next-Generation Leaders in Family Business

By Stephen P. Miller Engineering a successful generational transition is often the issue that most concerns entrepreneurs who hope the businesses they have created will thrive through multiple generations of family ownership. In a survey of family business owners, Family Business Consulting Group co-founder John Ward (1997) found that weak next-generation leadership was perceived as one of the top three threats to long-term family firm su


Emotional Ownership

Emotional Ownership By Kent Rhodes & Dana Telford "Let's go to work!" Dad would call out through my bedroom door. I'd rub my sleepy eyes and tumble out of bed for another Saturday morning of work at our family-owned resort. Some might say this was demanding too much of an 8-year-old like me, but looking back on it now I see that these weekend work sessions were more than chores leading to an allowance. My dad was instilling in me an ethic of hard work and helping me to understand


Mindfulness Brings Calm, Compassion and Creativity to Family Enterprises

By Amy Schuman & Stephanie Brun de Pontet Families in business together need skills in managing both emotional and financial demands. They must remain calm and focused in the face of high stakes situations. They need to let go of baggage from the past while not being overwhelmed by the uncertainty of the future. While some families struggle with these skills, many become masterful in focusing their attention on the demands of the present moment without being distracted by the past and future.​


Getting Non-Operating Shareholders Appropriately Involved

By Steve McClure Over time and generations, a family business usually encounters increasing obstacles to shareholder unity. As the family grows, members will become geographically dispersed and some may never set foot on the premises. Greater numbers in each generation means share ownership dilution and typically an associated decreased economic interest for each shareholder. They are generations removed from the founder and may not have had direct interaction with their entrepreneurial...​


Governance Beats Avoidance for Long-Term Family Business Harmony

By Otis Baskin Most successful business-owning families have a common fear: "How do we keep the next generation from fighting over the business?" This fear is well founded, as the survival rate for family businesses from founding generation to second generation and beyond is low. Further, most of us know tragic stories of ruined family relationships and lost fortunes because a group of siblings or cousins - who were to be the beneficiaries of a wonderful blessing - could not get along...


Don't Think of it as 'Succession Planning...'

By Kelly LeCouvie & Jennifer Pendergast Succession planning is an important process for any business, and particularly for family owned businesses. While family businesses often outperform nonfamily businesses, their succession planning can be more complicated due to the family dynamics that may overlay both ownership and leadership transitions. Jennifer Pendergast and Kelly LeCouvie share their wisdom from years of experience guiding families to successful generational transitions in...


Achieving Balance: Individual Rights and Family Interests

By Amy Schuman and David Lansky. Living in a civil society requires some sacrifice of individual freedom. In fact, much of the debate between U.S. political parties, which has become even more polarized in recent years, deals with the extent to which the state (society) should be involved with (interfere with) individual choice. In our consulting engagements with families in business together we have also often observed this dynamic at work.


Filling a Board Vacancy: Using Gap Analysis to Capture Opportunities

By Steve McClure Whether you have an advisory board with a few independents, a predominantly family board or a professional board with a majority of independent directors, a vacancy on an active board creates an opportunity to bring in needed knowledge or new ideas, with a few key constraints. In contrast to family firms that are establishing their first board or reconfiguring their entire board, when replacing one director that individual must be the right fit with all other family and...


Should I Leave the Family Business? To Go or Not to Go

By Stephanie Brun de Pontet and Chris Eckrich If you're considering leaving the family business, make sure it's for the right reasons. Thoughts on critical questions to ask yourself to see if leaving the family business is the right decision for you. By Stephanie Brun de Pontet and Chris Eckrich.​


The Status Effect: How Ego Plays Out in Family Firms

We find that helping families better understand the sources of tension in both their family and work systems can give them more choices to better manage those tensions.


The Non-Strategic Value of Directors

Author: Kelly LeCouvie Source: The Family Business Advisor


Transitioning from Family Leadership to Non-Family CEO: Best Practices for Maintaining a Family Enterprise

As a family business moves down the generations, the likelihood that it will need to turn to a non-family leader increases. Because of either lack of interest or lack of skills, families frequently find themselves in the situation of having to consider a non-family leader. The ability to navigate this change successfully is one of the determinants of family business survival.


Family Education through Roles in the Business: Getting Buy-In From Key Non-Family Managers

By Chris Eckrich and Steve McClure Business-owning families are always challenged with the potential of “us/them” relationships with non-family management. Nowhere is this more evident then when educating young family members through roles in the business. Exposure to a non-family manager or key employee, through a mentor relationship, a summer job or an entry-level job in the family business, is a unique educational opportunity for young family members. To maximize the learning potential of ​


Bringing Stepfamilies into the Family Business

Mark, a successful entrepreneur, had a plastic molding enterprise that expanded to include factories in England and Russia. While growth led to more success in his company, an expansion in his personal life eventually threatened the business.


In-Laws or Outlaws? Making Siblings' Spouses Part of the Team

When Angela married David, she was excited about joining a high-energy, well-respected, affluent family in a small, mid-western town. True, she had to move from her beloved California,and leave behind a teaching job.


Rotational Systems: An Approach to Career Development

By Jennifer M. Pendergast, Ph.D. and Amy Schuman Many family businesses assume that the best way to prepare members of the next generation for work in the business is to move them through a series of different jobs over a period of time. Whether or not the next-generation family members have worked outside the business, they are often encouraged to gain wide exposure within the business before settling down in one position.


Research Shows: Family Firms Have Special Strategic Advantages

The latest research says: Family Controlled Firms have superior financial performance. Family Controlled Firms are more successful with vertical integration strategies. Family Controlled Firms are more successful with diversification strategies.


Developing a Philosophy of Compensation

A good compensation plan should provide incentives so that everybody involved in the business works for what is best for all. To accomplish that, the plan must reflect the business’s core philosophy.


Getting the Most Out of Your Board

Author: Jennifer Pendergast, Ph.D. Source: From the Boardroom


Family Employment and Career Guidance: One Size Does Not Fit All

Author: Amy M. Schuman Source: Professional Insight


The Disinheritors

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Ownership Matters

I recently participated in a conference recognizing and celebrating 100-year-old family businesses.


Nuptial Agreements: How Do I Love Thee?

Nuptial Agreements: How Do I Love Thee?


Family Perks: Benefit or Boondoggle?

Those who own and manage family enterprises are often drawn to and appreciate the perks that their participation brings.


Including In-Laws: A Different View

We typically advise second generation family businesses to include in-laws as equal participants in family meetings and decision-making and as active members of the family council. Usually, they can bring fresh perspectives and diversity of thinking and it’s better for them to hear news first-hand.


What Family Business Owners Deserve

Every owner has certain legal rights—for example, if they have voting stock, the right to vote their shares.


Succession Suggestions from India

Family businesses drive the world’s economy. Whether a country is labeled as “developed” or “emerging” or “third world,” at the core of each country’s economy is its family businesses. The World Bank estimates that anywhere from 60 percent to 70 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) is derived from family businesses.


Family Business from the Cousins Perspective

Cousins and the world in which they grow up are vastly different from siblings and the world that shaped them. These changing conditions have a profound impact on family dynamics and on how cousins can most effectively own and run a business together.


The Second Family Business: The Family Office

After a successful family business has amassed sufficient wealth, the family enters a new, more unfamiliar stage in which, independent of the business, the family has to decide how to preserve its wealth, maintain its influence in society, continue to benefit its family members, and nurture a cohesive family identity.


Tips on Surviving as a Baby in the Family Business

While outsiders looking in might see next-generation family business owners as the lucky ones (those born with a silver spoon), those who start young working in the family business know it isn’t all that easy. Everyone is watching them and waiting for them to fail.


Making Loans to Children

From time to time we encounter families who are facing the awkward decision of whether or not to offer money, either in the form of a loan or a one-time gift, to one or more of their children.


Succession with Non-Descriptive Expectations

"Dad assures me that I will succeed him as president of our family's company. He is 62 and says he will retire when he turns 65.


Teach Your Children Well

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Even If Dad Won't Let Go, Siblings Should Prepare for The Future

Here’s the situation: Dad is 78. He founded the business which is very profitable and now the largest in our industry with 1200 employees.


A Father's Driving Dilemma

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


We Don't Have a Successor

I’m a second-generation owner of my family business. I have two college-age children who don’t seem to be interested in taking it over.


Succession: Whose Turn Is It?

The ownership of our family’s garden center operation is split evenly among two branches of the family. My aunt (with half the stock) and her two sons are employed here, as are my father, my brother, and I.


Approaching Your Children About Working in the Business

My son, in his early 20s with a degree in economics, asked me if he could spend a couple of years pursuing his interest in writing. He is pursuing his vocation with some degree of success and is able to support himself with his earnings plus interest on $200,000 in the bank account that we set up for him.


Wealth and Children: Being Successful with Both

By Bernard Kliska, Ph.D. Harry Martin manages the Cargill/MacMillan family's office. Cargill is the world's largest privately-owned family business, according to Forbes. We've excerpted a few comments from a presentation he made last November to the First Annual Private Investors Conference entitled Challenge: Accomplishing Generational Transitions.


Teaching Wealthy Children About Wealth

Bobby, a 16-year-old boy in a middle-class suburb, was well liked and well-adjusted. Then one of his friends showed him a surprising newspaper article.


China Inc. & Family Businesses Challenging Dynamics & Rewarding Opportunities

What is the largest English-speaking country in the world? The United States? No. It’s actually China.​


Holder's Not Holding On

Robert M. Bob Holder Jr. has been one of the Atlanta business community s most respected and visible leaders for over two decades.


Next Generation Development with a Mentor Team

By Stephen L. McClure, Ph.D. Career development for next-generation family members who aspire to leadership in a family business can be quite challenging. One of the biggest obstacles is providing these individuals honest feedback on their current job performance and objective advice on steps they can take to get the opportunities they will need to make it to the next level in the business. Family leaders in the business may be uncomfortable or unable to give objective feedback to a family me​


Enabling Incompetence Among Family Employees: Good Intentions Gone Awry

“I just want my kids to be happy and to get along.” We often hear this sentiment expressed among senior-generation members of a family business.


Musings on the Roles of Parents and Business Successors

By Norb Schwarz Most family businesses I have had the pleasure of working with have a firm foundation that includes exemplary family values: hard work, humility, stewardship, and competence. Some even go overboard by paying family too little for the jobs they perform. They believe that the family should set the example of hard work for the satisfaction and opportunity that stewardship affords. Unfortunately, there are occasionally some family members who are missing one or more of these criti​


Family Business or Family Glue?

The author of the following article is a fourth-generation member of the family that controls one of Americas most distinguished business institutions and served as the editor of his family' strategic planning document. When my grandmother died a few years ago at the age of 97, we were not a very forward-looking family. We had never needed to be. Her father had put control of his company into a trust back in the days before estate taxes, which meant that my grandmother could enjoy an enormous in​


Leading the Board: Qualities of an Effective Chair

Author: Jennifer Pendergast Source: The Family Business Advisor


Creating a Harmonious Board

An ideal board works like a symphony (derived from the Greek word for “harmonious composition or arrangement”), where the individual musicians have great talent, but the orchestra produces a collective sound that is extraordinary. This article provides a brief review of the circumstances under which that sound might be achieved.


Owners Job Description

It is the owners responsibility to elect directors, and through their choice of directors, they exert their major influence on the company.


Why Family Business Owners Need a Job Description

Author: Jennifer Pendergast Source: FBA


Ready, Set, Whoa: Starting a Family Office

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight If you're considering starting a family office, the odds are that you already have one, an informal one, any way. A family office typically evolves from humble beginnings. You probably use some of your business employees for personal matters. Perhaps your assistant books personal travel. Your in-house bookkeeper maintains some personal records and works with your outside CPA to get your tax returns prepared.


Family Offices - Part 2: Unearthing the Hidden Costs

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight Ok, so you've gotten past my last month's concern, that a family office may deprive family members of important life experiences. You agree with my Ask and Tell policy, which requires cost discussion before the office fulfills a family member's service request. Now, can I go ahead and hire some people to handle all my non-business distractions? you ask. Sorry, no. Darn! Now what?


Developing Tomorrow's Leaders

What can members of the senior generation do to help young leaders emerge? Plenty.


The Requirements of Leadership

Family business successors have tremendously demanding jobs. Not only do they face the challenge of running complex businesses in a changing world, they must assure family vision and consensus and cope with community expectations.


What to Think about Before Joining Your Family's Business

Dear Advisor: Ive heard some horror stories about promises made to family members who joined the family business and then not kept.


Family Meetings: A Three Legged Stool

Family meetings are frequently cited as one of the mainstays of family firm continuity. Add strategic planning and appropriate, active governance and you have much of the right stuff empirical research and just about every expert in the field recommend


A Family Council: A Renegotiation of Relationships

Author: Chris Eckrich & Steve McClure Source: Family Business Advisor


Responsibilities of Family Councils

Build and maintain understanding of family values, family unity, and business success of family members. Build and maintain effective personal and professional development programs for all family members in their chosen fields of endeavor and particularly for family members interested in participating in governance and management of family enterprises and family investments.


Leadership of a Family Council: Directive Leader or Servant Leader?

Author: Stephen McClure Source: The Family Business Advisor


Vaccinating with Values: Family Business Antidotes to 'Affluenza'

Author: Stephanie Brun de Pontet Source: The Family Business Advisor


Reducing the Risks of Family-Business Growth

We’ve heard financial strategies in family businesses expressed in many ways, ranging from “I just want to get out of debt” to “I’ll take every dollar anyone will lend me.” Our experience suggests that more family businesses would make the first statement; they don’t like debt and the risks that it causes.​


Co-Leaders: A Cop-Out on the Part of Parents of Sibling Owners, or a Sound Leadership Model?

While the use of co-CEOs is a leadership model familiar to family businesses, it has often been viewed as a necessary evil—a suboptimal model that may be required to maintain family harmony. As Kate Newell, a co-president with her brother said of the early days of their sharing the top seat, “We knew how others would look at it; they would see it as an inferior way to lead the company.”


Consulting the FBCG Oracle

As you likely know from your own experience, many issues and decisions faced by family businesses do not have obvious solutions.


Set Policies Now to Solve Future Problems

One way to deal with potential problems is to develop a set of family-business policies to guide future decisions and actions in a variety of areas. Here are some ideas that we've found effective in the experiences of families we've known and worked with.


Don't Waste a Good Recession: Finding Estate Planning Opportunities Amidst the Current Economic Downturn

If you are a family business owner hoping to pass ownership of your business and other assets to your children, these recessionary times can provide unprecedented estate planning opportunities.


Keeping Faith: Religion in the Family Business

By Craig Aronoff, Ph.D. We've always viewed the strong values and cultures that family can bring to the companies they own as one of family business greatest competitive advantages. And many families see their religion as the basis of their values. As a matter of faith or stewardship, these families put service to God, their religious organizations and other people as central motivations related to their business and family lives. They sometimes purposely build God, religion, faith and servic​


Seeking the Gold: Striving for Balance while Delivering Peak Performance in the Family Business

Stephanie Brun de Pontet, associate of the Family Business Consulting Group, Inc.® makes an interesting correlation between Olympians and family business leaders.


The Shadow Effect of the Founding Generation on the Sibling Partnership

Author: Stephanie Brun de Pontet & Kent Rhodes Source: The Family Business Advisor


Passing the Baby -- The 8 Must Haves of Successful Continuity Planning

Author: Dana Telford Source: The Family Business Advisor


Silence Is Golden...Sometimes

Author: David Lansky Source: FBA


What Do "Owners' Councils" Do?

Larger families eventually need a forum or a leadership process to discuss, develop and communicate the roles and responsibilities of ownership.


Directors Ask: What's My Role

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


How Do I Communicate with the Board?

Author: Sharon Krone Source: The Advisor


The Right Reasons to Sell

This article is the first in a series addressing the sale of the family business. Given the current economic climate, with buyers seeking family businesses that may want to sell, we see more and more families considering sale as an option. This series will address why to sell, how to do sell and what to do afterward.


We Think We Want to Sell--Now What!

More and more family businesses are confronting the decision of whether to keep or sell their business. In previous articles in this series, we have addressed reasons to consider selling and how to discuss selling within the ownership group.


Preparing Owners for a Non-Family CEO

By Christopher J. Eckrich, Ph.D. and Otis W. Baskin, Ph.D. Family businesses most often start out with a family member as CEO. As the business is passed down through generations, there often comes a point where the family owners have to decide whether to hire an outside CEO. Bringing in a non-family CEO may be the obvious choice. However, the introduction of a non-family CEO—even one that the owners strongly support—brings significant change to the way the family ownership group works togethe​


Leveraging Change to Achieve Continuity

Author: Stephanie Brun de Pontet No matter how many fine platitudes one hears about change, the fact remains that change makes most people uncomfortable. We are creatures of habit and prefer some predictability in almost all aspects of our lives. Even when we can objectively see there is some need for change (you are miserable at work), we will resist taking a


How to Make Strategic Planning Successful

Author: Jennifer Pendergast Source: Professional Insight


Ten Strategic Questions for the Next Generation

Ten Strategic Questions for the Next Generation by Craig E. Aronoff, Ph.D. Among the many issues that confront family businesses in times of generational transition, strategic direction can be crucial. The strategy that has provided direction for the business during the incumbent generation’s watch may be faltering or tired or largely completed. Strategic modifications, reinvigoration or even a reinvention of the business may be required with the aging current leadership unmotivate​


Money and Meaning To Sell or Not to Sell That Is Not the Only Question

Author: David Lansky Source: Professional Insight As an advisor to business owners and their families, I find that many of my clients dream of keeping their businesses in their families. Indeed, the American Family Business Survey found that nearly 88% of the family business leaders that they interviewed wanted their families to continue controlling their firms in the future. Nevertheless, family firms are not infrequently sold to nonfamily third parties. Even though my inclination as a fami​


Are You an Owner by Choice?

Except for business founders, most family business owners don't choose to become owners. Ownership usually comes to them via inheritance or as a gift.


The Special Role of Owners on Family Business Boards

Author: Jennifer Pendergast & Stephanie Brun de Pontet Source: FBA


How to Ready the Next Generation for the Board

In this issue's Two Hats, we comment on the pros and cons of the next generation attending board meetings.​


How Independent Directors Add Value

Author: Norbert E. Schwarz Source: From the Boardroom


Creating Successful Decision Making Groups

Author: Jennifer Pendergast Source: FBA


Family Foundation as Family Glue

“Wealth is a dangerous inheritance, unless the inheritor is trained to active benevolence.”---Charles Simmons


You Don't Have to Retire (But is Hanging On Worth the Price?)

This is my business, insists Arnold, the 75-year-old founder and CEO of a family owned manufacturing company. I love running it: why should I quit?


Family Wealth Planning, Part II: A Framework for Estate Planning

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Family Wealth Planning, Part III: A Framework for Estate Planning

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Focus on Life: A Framework for Estate Planning

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


How Sophisticated Does Our Governance Need to Be?

One of the keys to long-term success for family businesses is the development of separate governance systems for family and business.


An Invitation to Address Transition Fears

Author: Drew Mendoza Source: FBA


"Letting Go" is a Two-Way Street

Succession problems are usually characterized as the parental generation's struggle to let go of authority, responsibility and control-passing the baton to the next generation. And certainly, those problems can be dauntingly real and frightening to almost all business owning parents.


What Makes The Sibling Generation Different?

Each generation of a family business is unique and faces its own special set of challenges. We believe, however, that the sibling team -- frequently the second generation -- faces some of the most difficult challenges of all. If you are a member of a sibling group, be prepared to spend enormous effort building and maintaining an effective team. The demands on your time and energy will be exceptional, and you will have to work very hard. However, the rewards will be great. What could be better th​


Decision Making on Family Business Matters

Author: Christopher Eckrich & Stephen McClure Source: Professional Insight


Keeping Family Together: Elements of Dissension/Elements of Cohesion

Author: David Lansky Source: The Family Business Advisor


Family Education: Strengthening Bonds While Learning Together Excerpt

Not long before Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. clinched the deal to purchase Dow Jones & Co. and the Wall Street Journal from the Bancroft family in 2007, one family member, Crawford Hill, sent an anguished, nearly 4,000-word e-mail to his relatives urging them to accept Mur-doch’s offer.


The Family That Learns Together Stays Together

Author: Stephanie Brun de Pontet & Amy Schuman Source: Family Business Advisor


The Ins and Outs of Family Meetings

Last year at an international seminar presented by the Family Business Consulting Group in Bilbao, Spain, participants in a small session were asked: What are your greatest family meeting challenges? The attendees were a diverse group of family business owners from Italy, Mexico, the US and Spain, ranging in age from their 20s to 60s. Unexpectedly, they discovered that their challenges were nearly identical: Getting family members to attend family meetings; Getting those that attend t​


Building the Best Team Possible: Relationships Between Family and Non-Family Employees

Author: Chris Eckrich & Steve McClure Source: The Family Business Advisor


How Outgoing CEOs Can Make Change a Tradition

If you are the incumbent CEO, one whose retirement may be in sight and who is diligently bringing along your successor(s), you will want to do everything in your power to turn over a healthy organization. One of the marks of a healthy organization is the ability to change. And you, as the senior-generation CEO, have a great deal of influence on whether or not your family business has that ability.​


Three Family Keys to Multi-Generational Business Success

As we’ve suggested many times in The Family Business Advisor, family challenges are more likely than business challenges to lead to the demise of family businesses. We’ve observed three related characteristics of families which achieve multi-generational business continuity and success.


Family Meetings: Some Guidelines

Author: David Lansky Source: Professional Insight


Client Wisdom on Family Meetings

Author: Amy Schuman w/ Mary Kay Pasin Source: FBA


Developing Family Oversight: One Family's Experience

Author: David Lansky Source: Professional Insight


What Makes Family Businesses Different?

Appreciating family firms requires an understanding of how mixing business with family results in unique characteristics


Understanding Shareholder Motivations and Needs

We often say that a critical distinction between family and non-family owned companies is that the former thinks of shareholder values, while the latter thinks only of shareholder value.


Making Sibling Teams Work

Research tells us that more and more business owning families are considering succession to a team of siblings who would own the familys business together. Primogeniture, it seems, is far less popular than it once was. While sibling team ownership (and leadership) can work, it is risky. Our experience suggests that about half who try break up. For a family, those are high stakes. Before concluding that sibling ownership is best, please consider the following as pre-conditions.


What is the Definition of Family?

It is now increasingly difficult to decide what constitutes a family. Good family communication and regular family meetings are two of the strongest predictors for a successful family business.


Family Councils: Who Needs Them?

Author: JoAnne Norton Source: FBA


How to Promote Change By...Reinterpreting Traditions

Weve often written of the successors challenge to preserve the strengths of tradition, yet to adapt those traditions to have more relevance for today. The challenge can be difficult and subtle.


Do We Need D&O Insurance

Author: Norbert E. Schwarz Source: The Advisor


Useful Questions to Inform Strategic Planning

The chairman of a board on which I serve recently asked me to offer a few suggestions on strategic issues that might be discussed by the board during its executive session.


Family Business Loan Programs

Author: Norbert Schwarz Source: Professional Insight


Welcoming a Child into the Family Business

Author: Bernie Kliska Source: FBA


Avoiding Family Cutoffs

Author: Bernie Kliska & Stephanie Brun de Pontet Source: FBA


Bringing in Fresh Air: Using a Board of Advisors

Sometimes the same strengths that help build a thriving family business can also become its weakness.​


Planning a Funeral for Your Family Business

Driving home from a particularly difficult consulting session about family succession, we saw a sign on a funeral parlor: Plan Now! Don't Wait any Longer and Burden the Ones You Love! As consultants, we often become involved with family businesses far too late in the founders lives, after years of bad decisions or non-decisions about the future of their businesses.


After the Disaster: Rebuild, Retool or Retire?

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina reminds us that sometimes natural or other disasters can suddenly destroy even the most solid business plans and healthiest family enterprises. Just as generations of deep roots may not always save mature oak trees, family businesses are not immune to catastrophe.​


Death and the Family Business

The deaths of Sam Johnson and Frank Perdue, two notable patriarchs of family businesses, are a reminder that all of us no matter how much we've accomplished and what we've built for ourselves, our families, and society are mortal. By Bernard Kliska, Ph.D.


The Top 10 Ways You Know You Work for a Family Business

Author: Bernard Kliska & Penny Webb Source: FBA


Pros and Cons of Compensation Philosophies

In developing policy concerning compensation for family members, the first step is to adopt a compensation philosophy, the principles that guide compensation decisions. Generally speaking, there are four basic compensation philosophies: market pay, equal pay, flexible pay or tailored pay. Each approach has its pros and cons. 4/01/2006


Sharing Family Cottages, Lodges and Resorts: Part 1

Author: Christopher J. Eckrich & Stephen L. McClure Source: Professional Insight 04/01/2006


What Happens After you Succeed?

We like to ask of very successful and thoughtful next-generation CEOs, What challenges did you face when taking charge that you’d want to share with others who are in line to become CEOs of their family businesses? Following is what a 42-year-old European successor said after succeeding his business-founder father five years ago.


Managing Family Employment--A Tough Balancing Act

More and more family businesses are putting in place employment policies that define requirements for family members entering the business.


Addressing the Fears that Come with Succession

It cannot be said enough: succession is a process, not an event. It is never too early to start having discussions on this topic and to start to get comfortable addressing the complex issues it raises for all stakeholders.


Family Education: Perfect is the Enemy of Good

By Amy Schuman We all know that educating family members and owners is key to family business success. An informed and skilled sibling partnership is more likely to be able to forge an agreement around values, goals and strategy.


Linking Family and Business Governance in Later Generations

Author: Jennifer Pendergast, Stephanie Brun de Pontet, and John Ward Source: FBA


Accountability in Family Governance: A Key Variable for Building Trust

In a prior article, we discussed the difficulty that family businesses often experience in creating business cultures of accountability, constructing systems requiring accountability, and fostering accountability in individuals. Similar challenges with accountability exist in the family realm.


How to Attract the Next Generation to the Family Business

Every family business owner worries about succession and is concerned about the next generation's capabilities and commitment. Some pressure sons or daughters to go to work for the company, an approach that often yields disappointing results.


When the Family Council Needs a Makeover

When a family council is formed for the first time, there is often a backlog of issues to be addressed by the newly formed group. The initial activities are specific to the needs of each business family, yet they often include the following: Helping the younger family members and spouses begin to understand the business and their role as stewards.


A Surprise Retirement Party

Approaching 70, he would talk about retirement, but he wouldn't do it. Business was becoming less fun and more frustrating as his industry underwent total transformation.


High Cost of Cut-offs

Author: Mark Green & Greg Greenleaf Source: FBA


Money and Meaning Passing the Legacy: A Time for Creative Destruction?

Author: David Lansky Source: Professional Insight


How Do We Deal With Inappropriate Entitlement? Or Can We Learn Anything From Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich?

Many of us—particularly those of us living in Chicago—have been appalled by recent allegations about the behavior of Rod Blagojevich, the Governor of the State of Illinois. As most readers will know, Blagojevich is accused of seeking to benefit personally from his duty to name the successor to President-elect Barack Obama in the US Senate


Know What Hat You are Wearing

Author: Phil Clemens, Chairman, Hatfield Quality Meats Source: First Person


Socializing with Employees

After earning my MBA and working outside the family business, I recently started my first real job in my family’s business. I’m grateful that the business is in a large metropolitan area.


Should You Create a Dynasty? Part 2

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Shareholder Redemption Traps: All Gains Are Not Equal-Part 1

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Compensating Offspring in the Business

Pay may be the greatest source of friction in family firms. It is a terribly complex issue for the owner and his children working in the business.


Challenges in Captivating the Next Generations: How to Create Interest Among Teens

One of the great joys of our firm is how we can, and often do, draw on each other’s wisdom and knowledge to inform the work we do with our clients. We learn constantly as professionals with this model of sharing, and our clients benefit from this indirect access to such a broad pool of expertise


Message over Medium: Modern Communication in the Family Business

As the platform for modern communication has radically changed over the past decade, there have been countless articles and opinions offered on “how” to best reach your audience, in particular a younger audience.


Managing the Psychological Impact of Inherited Wealth

By David Lansky, Ph.D. In a series of focus groups that my colleague Jennifer Pendergast and I conducted with wealth managers, family office executives and family members served by family offices, most expressed concern about the development and adjustment of family members who stand to inherit significant wealth. At the same time, we find services in these matters relatively rare. While the relative proportions of each family office will vary, I recently asked a colleague abo


Feeling Better about Refusing to Choose between Your Family and Your Business: You Can (and Must) Care for Both!

One of the most powerful challenges in family businesses is managing the naturally occurring tensions between the family and the business. Wise families know that the answer to this dilemma is to not choose one over the other, but to insist upon the primacy of both.


Adult Siblings in Family Business: Dreams Defer to Reality

While there are no statistics available on the number of family businesses with multiple siblings owning and/or managing a firm begun by their parents, the attributes of what makes such businesses successful are easy to pinpoint. Virtually all family businesses require some basic building blocks and fundamental actions for successful generational passage.


Do-It-Yourself Family Meetings

Family business experts consistently tell business owners, You should hold family meetings. We think that's great advice. But those experts also seem to suggest: Don't try it on your own.


Preparing the Board for a Non-Family CEO

Author: Otis Baskin & Chris Eckrich Source: FBA


The Case for Clarity on Future Ownership

Author: Stephanie Brun de Pontet & John Ward Source: FBA


Women, Communication, and Leadership

It has been suggested in recent years that women have different styles of communication and leadership than men do. We would add that women in family businesses face communication and leadership challenges that are specific to them or that are confronted by members of both sexes but perhaps experienced more intensely by women.


Think As A Clan for Long-Term Success

“Where long-term survival of the extended family is more important than individual influence” is Professor Annelie Karlsson’s insightful and intriguing definition of a “clan.” What especially interests us about the Stockholm (Sweden) School of Economics professor’s definition is its applicability to successful long-term business continuity.


Family Business In-Laws

Some call themselves outlaws because they feel so remote from the family's business. Parents, feeling helpless, cross their fingers and hold their breath.


Minority Shareholders & Limits to Liquidity: Another Important Case for Shareholder Education

Both limits to shareholder liquidity and the concept of minority discounts—that reduction in value often applied to anything less than a company’s majority ownership—are often the source harmful fights and long standing resentments between shareholders in family business. Normal and predictable though they may be, these challenges to family shareholder harmony and company cash needs are almost always avoidable.


Shareholder Agreements-Parting Ways: Part 1

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Parting Ways-Part 4: Let My People Go

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Parting Ways-Part 3: The Value Equations

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Parting Ways-Part 2: The Valuation Conundrum

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Record Your History---Before It's Too Late

Witt Stephens, 84, legendary founder of Little Rock's powerful merchant bank, Stephens & Co., passed away in early December. Thousands attended the funeral.


Trust: The Basis of Family Business Advantage

Our experience and research suggests that family businesses have several competitive advantages. You've read in the Family Business Advisor about the patience that permits long-term strategies, the "family effect" that reduces capital costs, commitment to quality and service, loyalty among employees and other factors which seem to be more frequently found in family businesses that have


Family Business Policies: Why You Need Them

Policies help avoid problems and conflicts before they happen. They eliminate or reduce future tension. When families take the time to identify and discuss issues that might lead to future disagreement and tension, they are actually determining the most important areas in which policies might be needed.​


Policy-Making: The Process

We list below some of the individual steps you and your family can expect to go through in developing a policy for your policy guide. We urge families to hold off discussion or debate of any policy until after step “e.” When discussion begins too early in the process, family members start to "freeze up" in their opinions and get locked into positions, often based on some self-interest.


Going to Work in the Family Business

So, you're ready to begin working in the family business. It's not the first time you've been paid by the business you worked summers and vacations but this is your first real full time job after completing college and gaining experience elsewhere. Your goal is to work your way into the top management team, maybe even earning the title of President/CEO as your father (or mother) and grandfather before you.


Who's Responsible for What in Career Development

Nothing could be more important to the continuity of a family business than the preparation of next generation leaders---both family and non-family.


Why There Is No One-Size-Fits-All for Family Business

As a consultant, I often receive requests from clients to provide them with a set of best practices that they can follow to ensure that their family business is well-run. This request is logical.


Sibling Code of Conduct

Here’s a good example of a Sibling Code of Conduct, developed to clarify the expectations of a team of sibling owners and to reinforce and make explicit their commitment to one another.


The Leverage of Kindness

Blanche DuBois depended on “the kindness of strangers” in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. It is a curious behavioral attribute that most of us possess; we are indeed kind to strangers. It doesn’t seem to take much effort and it makes us feel good.


Building A Healthy Team

Turning any group of people into a team is a tough assignment. Forging two or more siblings into a team, especially if they didn''t have team-building experiences growing up, is even tougher. The emotional issues we talked about earlier frequently get in the way--all the more reason to be aware of and understand these issues so that any negative impacts can be minimized or prevented altogether.


Fair Process: So Important, So Subtle

We’ve written on many occasions about how the perceptions of fairness in family decision-making are so critical to family unity and commitment. We’ve explained how the design of the decision-making process affects perceptions of fairness.


Family Venture Capital

Author: Norb Schwarz Source: FBA


Deeply Held Values Enable Genuinely Rewarding Life

Author: Stephanie Brun de Pontet Source: FBA


The Roles and Responsibilities of Family Ownership

By John Ward, Ph.D. There has been a broad discussion around the roles and responsibilities of boards in family enterprises.


Honoring Family Traditions in a Changing World

In family businesses, tradition is something like truth: It's easy to uphold, until upholding it presents a risk. When grandfather Portobello started his neighborhood bakery, people began their days with an early morning walk to the bakery to buy fresh bread.


Next Generation Leaders: Don't Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater

It is not unusual for the successor generation leaders to seek to professionalize their family business.​


Pre-Mortem Beats Post-Mortem

In my younger days as a family business consultant, I confidently gave simple, direct advice on one key aspect of generational transition. “Set your retirement date, announce it publicly, and stick to it.


Using the Ladder of Inference in Managing Conflicts

Managing conflict is a challenge in any business setting and yet, when managed correctly, some conflicts might even be beneficial; for example, if it spurs new thinking that result in better processes and communication. But knowing how to leverage conflict into an advantage is not always immediately clear and this is particularly true within family businesses. That's because the dynamics that can produce conflict within a family simultaneously intersect with the challenges of owning and operatin​


Sibling Teams: Understanding the Emotional Problems

By John L. Ward, Ph.D. and Craig Aronoff, Ph.D. A number of major emotional issues unique to brothers and sisters will deeply affect how they work together as a team. Understanding those issues and realizing that every sibling partnership is affected by all or most of them will help family members become more objective, more knowledgeable, and even more compassionate in dealing with them. Increased awareness helps to empower the sibling team. Let's explore the issues:


Family Employment Policies: Best Practices

Increasingly, business-owning families develop family employment policies to help family members understand their relationship to the business. While such policies differ from family to family, several principles maximize results both in business performance and family relationships.


Ten Rules for Successful CEOs in Family Firms

Who should lead the family firm when a family member can't, won't or shouldn't? Are there strategies that can be employed to improve the odds of success of non-family CEOs? What can family owners do to develop successful relationships with their non-family CEOs? 04/01/2016


Giving Gets More Complicated

Author: Jennifer Pendergast Source: Professional Insight


Per Capita vs. Per Stirpes: A Family Divided by Equal Love, Part I

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Commitment Saves Jolly Time

Author: Craig E. Aronoff, Ph.D. Source: Living Lesson


Resolve to Approach the New Year with Balance

Author: Stephanie Brun de Pontet Source: FBA


Lessons from Long-Lasting Japanese Companies

Author: John L. Ward Source: FBA


Family Business Leadership

Author: Penny Webb Source: FBA


Reconciliation For Past Injustice

Author: David Lansky Source: FBA


The 'How' of Board Development

Author: Carol Ryan Source: FBA


Listening to Our 'Youngers'

Author: Stephanie Brun de Pontet Source: FBA


Summer Jobs & the Family Business

Author: Mark Green Source: FBA


A Brief Review of Thoughts on Management & Leadership

Author: Stephanie Brun de Pontet Source: FBA


Keeping the Family and Business Together

Author: John Ward Source: FBA


Compensating Your Board of Directors

Family business consultants like myself often urge family firms to create a board that includes not only family members but also some knowledgeable, experienced, independent outsiders.


How a Board Helped One Family Find Its Niche

For third-generation Variety Food Services, having an unbiased, seasoned board of directors in place for the past 15 years has been one of the key elements in a smooth succession plan over the past few years.


Managing Owner Expectations About Sitting on Boards

We are going from my father as the first-generation sole owner to 10 sibling second-generation owners with diverse perspectives.


Should You Build Your Board Like Warren Did?

One company's seven-member board is dominated by the company's founder and includes a vice chairman who has been the chairman's alter ego for half a century, the chairman's attorney and the chairman's wife and son.


How an Outside Director Can Help

Marshall Paisner, chairman of Boston, car wash chain ScrubaDub, offers a great example of how an outsider board member can help a business.


When Can Family Members Serve on the Board?

Author: Joseph H. Astrachan Source: From the Boardroom


Qualifications of Directors

Robert Neuschel, professor of Corporate Governance at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management specializes in studying boards of directors.


Research Shows Value of Directors Advice

While some fear that outside directors may become antagonistic, a new study concludes that directors friendly to the CEO can enhance business performance – as long as the CEO has a significant ownership stake.


Independent Directors Contribute

The examples of independent directors' contributions to a family business' long-term success are numerous.​


Family Business Succession: 15 Guidelines--Part 2

Last month we began by giving you guidelines for how successful family businesses survive and prosper in the succession process.


Why Serve on a Family Business Board

When family businesses consider adding non–family members to their boards, one of their first questions is “Who would want that job?” Sometimes, they can only see the negatives.


Directors of Private Company Found Liable in Bankruptcy Suit

The responsibilities and liabilities of officers and directors of private companies may have been significantly expanded by a recent ruling by Judge Robert W. Street in the federal district court (Manhattan).​


Employment Policy Allows Family Buy-Out

The family was shaken by the tragedy--their beloved son, brother, husband, father, cousin---a leader of a successful family business= third generation---dead in a bizarre accident while still in his 40s.​


Policies for Moving into the Second Generation

It seems that almost every article about family business points out the statistic that only one-in-three family businesses survive into the second generation.


Politics Heat Up Death Tax Debate

The debate on the repeal of the U.S. inheritance tax is heating up. A few Republicans seem to have second thoughts about complete repeal, while some Democrats are enthusiastic supporters.


What's a Fair Price?

I own about seven percent of a substantial family firm and am non-active in the business. Eighteen cousins have inherited stock. At a recent meeting, we talked about selling the business.


Where to Draw the Line

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


When Owners Talk to Employees...

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


The Burdens of Ownership

Virtually every owner of a successful family business at one time or another asks, “Is this worth it?” Some ponder that question daily.


Lessons on Ownership from the Sale of Knight Ridder

The recent auction of Knight Ridder the USA's second-largest newspaper chain has received great attention in the business press.


When An Owner is Fired

I’ve recently fired my brother (who owns 20% of the business). He’s been relieved of all responsibilities and received six months at full pay. He is now threatening a lawsuit. He says his attorney says there’s a difference between terminating a non-owner and an owner. Any merit to that view?


Ownership Inequality

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Owners vs. Executives: Avoiding the Battle

In the public company world, war is breaking out between stockholders and management. Even sanctified General Electric has suffered investor wrath for financial reporting procedures, heavy leverage and inadequate communication with investors.


Hire Good Talent in Bad Times

Perhaps now is the time for your family business to upgrade executive talent and recruit quality board members.


Economist Says: Private Ownership is Better

Another voice has weighed in on the advantages of private ownership of companies. Distinguished economist Dr. Donald Ratajczak, director of Georgia State University’s Economic Forecasting Center recently wrote in his regular column in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution (Sept. 22, 1996), “the case can be made that privately owned companies use resources better than publicly owned ones.”


Going Public/Going Private

A panel of family business owners and experts recently met in Europe to discuss the pros and cons of public ownership.


Publicly-Traded Firm Asks: Should We Be Known As A Family Business?

Dear Advisor: We're a publicly traded family business. My father was chairman for many years, and now he's stepping down. Although I am succeeding him, some of our outside directors and non-family executives question whether we should continue to promote ourselves as a family business. The family owns a substantial portion of the business and a sizable majority of the voting shares. What do you think?​


Will New Securities Laws Affect Your Family Business?

If a company doesnt need the peculiar advantages afforded by being public, such as access to the capital markets, companies may think twice before going public, said Michael Rosenzweig, corporate governance expert at the Atlanta law firm McKenna, Long & Aldridge.


CEO Sacked for Pushing Company Towards Going Public

If you are the non-family CEO of a family business---and you cherish your job---you better make sure you understand where your family owners stand and what they want relative to strategy and ownership.​


3rd Generation Entrepreneurs: Tatelman Brothers Build Family Business, Sell to Buffett

When Eliot and Barry Tatelman joined their family's retail furniture business, Jordan's, in the early 1970s, they and their father constituted half of the company's workforce.


Should I Leave the Family Business?

I've been working in the family business since high school. Since graduating from college, I've been in it full time.


Because I Did

My three-year-old daughter, Julia, has a great response whenever I ask her why she did something.


How-to on "Semi-Retirement"

I am a healthy, 65 year-old president and CEO of a successful business. I have a son and daughter who have been involved in the management of our business for the past five years, and I am confident they are ready to take over the day-to-day leadership of the business.


Choosing to Sell Your Shares

My sister and I inherited our family business from our father almost 20 years ago when he passed away. I have never worked in the business, and she has run the business for the past ten years and worked there all her life.


Whom Should Shareholders Ask?

Author: Craig E Aronoff Source: The Advisor


Understanding Roles and Responsibilities

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Funding Family Needs Can Build Commitment

When family businesses simultaneously seek to fund growth and provide rewards to shareholders using internally generated cash flow, they often find inadequate money to go around.


My Personal Piggybank

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Establishing Share Value

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Can We Pledge Our Shares?

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Family Shareholder Liquidity

Many families provide formal methods to offer shareholders options for liquidity or exit. Such opportunities often actually strengthen family commitment to the business because the decision to remain an owner becomes a free choice and concerns for financial security are lessened.


Family Businesses and Shareholder Value

Revelations about public company financial shenanigans have again focused attention on the issue of trust between the investor who buys stock in a company and that company’s management.


Ensure Successful Sibling Partnerships: Three Dimensions

As we've reported many times, nearly half of all family firms are considering passing ownership and leadership to two or more siblings. The planning necessary to help assure success is both important and complex. The following framework can be helpful in that planning.


S Corps, Cash Flow and Shareholder Expectations

One of the most common and predictable frustrations we hear expressed by family business owners (especially new shareholders) is the curse of the S Corp. Here is how it works.


Trust Me, or Else

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Balancing Inside and Outside Stockholders Needs

How do you balance the needs of family stockholders when some are employed by the family business and others are not?


Global Recession: Potential Impacts on Family Businesses

If global capital markets continue to fall and recession brings deflation and lower standards of living accompanied by social suffering, family businesses likely will be impacted in a variety of ways.​


Silence Can't Save the Family Business

The board of directors sat quietly at the end of the presentation. The division manager, son of a senior member of the board, had just completed the annual update on his division's strategic plan. The division' s performance in the past year was not satisfactory and the updated plan did little to address the problems. But the board was quiet.


The Five Trends of Family Business

A client recently asked me an interesting question regarding family business: what are the five major trends you see in family business? The question is a good one. If you wanted to answer this on your own, you could try to get through the Wall Street Journal or your local newspaper (if you still have one), if for no other reason than to add credence to the trend that reading is the leading cause of depression


Buying Stock From Distant, Inactive Relations

Dear Advisor: We are a third generation C Corporation with over two dozen family shareholders. Most of our stock is concentrated in the families of active owners, but about 25% is owned by distant cousins who live in another part of the country and are practically strangers.


Giving Stock to Employees

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Preparing to Transfer Stock to Your Children

Your advisers are urging you to start shifting stock to the next generation to take advantage of planning techniques that are available to you while you’re alive, but are unavailable at your death.


Pricing Shareholder Redemptions

We’ve long advocated opportunities for family shareholders to redeem shares. Such opportunities typically increase family harmony and increase ownership commitment by other shareholders.


Cumulative Voting

Author: Norbert Schwarz Source: Dear Advisor


Is Stock Compensation or a Gift?

Last year, on the fifth anniversary of my employment in the family business, my Dad transferred five percent of ownership to me.


Chapter 14: The Good, The Bad, and The Unknown

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


When the Founder Dies, Who Gets the Voting Stock?

Assume that the founder is Dad and Mom doesn’t work in the business. Dad dies first. To whom should he leave the voting stock? Mom or the kids? It depends on your point of view.


Family Members as Employees

I started my business about five years ago. In the beginning, my two children (now ages 13 and 16) lent a hand now and then as part of their family chores, but I’m starting to hear grumbles about being paid.


Crummey Approaches

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Motivating Stock Gifting

Im having trouble convincing my parents to gift their stock in the family business to me and my siblings even though it benefits their estate planning. Your advice seems to be gift early and often, but despite their being in their late 50s, I cant get them to get moving. Any suggestions?


The Family Factor in Family Business--Does Your Family Add or Subtract

Imagine yourself at a holiday cocktail party, on the sidelines of your children’s soccer field, or the school PTA meeting—anywhere you meet new people and strike up a conversation. In those situations, the conversation often turns to work.


In and Out of the Business: Gifting Fairly

I have three children. Two have joined me in the business. The other is a well-educated, disciplined, talented painter. I am equally proud of each and I want to treat them equally.


Party Time!

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


It's a Matter of Trust

Author: Christopher Eckrich Source: Professional Insight


FLiPs Flop in Court

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Choose to Be Happy

Long before I had children, I learned a valuable parenting lesson. My new husband and I were enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon in a park when we overheard a conversation between a father and an unhappy toddler.


Flipping Out Over FLPs

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Avoid FLiP Flops:: Focus on the FLiPing Facts!

Last month, I promised practical guidance to keep the IRS from blowing up your family limited partnership (FLiP or FLP) and other estate planning entities.


Dealing with Frustrations

Sometimes the waiting is hard, especially when the future seems unclear. Many a potential successor feels deep doubts, impatience, frustration, unfulfilled...


Chomping at the Bit

My daughter, 28, does a great job and thinks she’s ready to become CEO. I think she still needs seasoning and experience to develop the judgment required to run a company.



Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Finding Fault

Scott was upset with his father. He had a key job in a branch of the family business and the branch was sold -- but that wasn't the problem.


What's A Father To Do?

Author: Drew Mendoza Source: Two Hats


Active Owners Explain Family's Commitment to Employees

Their brother was in management, but three sisters who in the future would own equal portions of the business weren't well known to the company's 565 associates.


Trust in Business is Catalyzed by Family

Weve often observed that trust is among the greatest potential competitive advantages of family businesses. Trusting relationships among participants in the business as well as between the business and its customers, suppliers and sources of funding can strengthen the organization in times of stress and render it more effective at finding and seizing opportunities.


Beware the Private Equity Bull

There's an old stock market saying that goes The bull market is over when the bull is on the cover of Business Week. Well, private equity was on the cover of the February 27, 2006 issue of Business Week and one might wonder whether that signals the top of that market as well.


Family Fingers in the Till

A third generation family business scion, now an attorney, loved to tell this story: My daddy used to say: Only let family members handle the money. That way, Daddy would say, if someonestealing from you, at least its going for a good cause.


When a Man Marries the Boss

The National Foundation For Women Business Owners says that 6.5 million American women own businesses. We know many women entrepreneurs who have been successful enough to attract their husbands from other corporate or professional careers into executive slots in their rapidly developing ventures.


Job Performance and Family Peace

Five next-generation family members work in our business and four of them are doing well. One, however, has behaved and performed poorly.


"Fire Your Brother!"

My brother and I are executives in a business my father founded. Dad is CEO, I'm president and my brother is vice president.


A Founder Insists on Her Way

My two sibs and I have agreed to buy out my parents and their business partner at fair market value. They are each getting more money than they’ll need to live very comfortable for the rest of their lives.​


Mission Statements for Cousin Clans

As family businesses move into their third or fourth generation, ownership is often spread among many cousins who are not involved with the business as employees, executives or directors. These “distant” relatives often lack emotional ties to the business or to their extended family.


Wisdom for the New Millenium--Why Family?

"Like a river, a family flows across time. Believing a family begins with a mother and a father is like believing a river begins when it comes around the bend into one’s view.


The Job Description of Mom

We were reminded recently of the elements of a role in the family that is not always understood. When six siblings needed to learn how to be business partners, three being uninvolved and three active in the business, they asked their mother what she did to hold them together so far.


4th Generation Keeps Freedom in the Family

Many families have shareholders that chose to cash out rather than continuing their commitment to the business. Recently, Freedom Communications had to resolve this issue.


The Parent Trap

Author: Drew S. Mendoza Source: Two Hats


Patience and Persistence Pay

The family business had done much right. Two bright young siblings were in the business


Concerns Over Comp and Trust

Dear Advisor: I'm very close to turning over the business I founded to my children. Naturally, during my career, I tried to be smart about taxes. I expensed whatever I could, but I always left money in the company to build the company's strength.


Special Compensation Issues in Family Firms

Author: Craig E. Aronoff, Ph.D., Stephen L. McClure, Ph.D. and John L. Ward, Ph.D. Source: Family Business Compensation Chapter 4


We Need a Policy for Hiring Members of 3G

Author: Jennifer Pendergast Source: The Advisor


We Need to Change the Compensation of Family Members

Author: Craig E. Aronoff Source: The Advisor


A Secret About Secrecy

Entrepreneurs tend to be closed-mouthed and close to the vest. They see information as power and a competitive edge, so they protect it carefully


Be Smart About Asking For A Raise

I would like to give my brother and myself a raise. It has been three years since our last increase. He is the general manager and president of the company and I am the CFO and treasurer of our family's resort business.


Pay More for a Non-Family Executive?

We have a large number of family members in our fourth-generation business. Our policy is to give jobs to family members wanting them, but family member pay is quite low.


Paying The Board

Author: Craig E. Aronoff Source: The Advisor


Don't Fire the Apprentice!

When Steve Irwin, aka The Crocodile Hunter, died recently, adventure lovers around the globe mourned his passing. But, they were also introduced to a new Irwin – Bindi.


Setting Dividend Policy

Author: Craig E. Aronoff Source: The Advisor


Dividend Repeal Proposal

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Setting Dividend Policy

Author: Craig E. Aronoff Source: The Advisor


How Not To Ruin The Holidays

'Tis the season! As the year winds down we have visions of sugarplums and prepare to make New Year's resolutions...and business-owning families often consider such matters as family meetings, gifts of stock, and bonuses and dividends for family members.


Engaging in Learning about the Business: Insight from a Fifth-Generation Family Member

In working with family enterprises, I have often had the pleasure of collaborating with family members who want to learn and be engaged in the process of stewardship, even if no one in their generation actually works in the business. As the facilitator for the fifth-generation meetings of one particular family, I was struck by their dedication and asked if they would share their story.


Straight Talk on Succession Planning

My father grew his father’s business from a very small firm to one which today employs over 300 people in several different companies. After receiving a graduate business degree and working elsewhere for a few years, I decided to help out, serving as Dad’s number one.


A Family Divided by Equal Love Part II

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Estate Planning in a Flat World

I recently read The World Is Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist. In this book, Friedman explores the political and technological changes that have created a “flat world.” In a flat world, what economists call “barriers to entry” are progressively eliminated and individuals or companies anywhere can compete on a global basis.


Defining Value

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Per Capita Versus Per Stirpes--Which is Right for Us?

When engaged in estate planning, families of wealth are often faced with deciding how to treat the grandchildren or great-grandchildren when passing assets (often through generation-skipping or other trusts) to their grandchildren and beyond.


Make Sure Your Estate Plan Works as Expected

It's all set up, said the principal owner of a third-generation family business. If I die, my stock goes into a trust with three trustees: my lawyer, my accountant and my wife. She can benefit from ownership but won't get control.


Estate Fairness for Children In and Out of the Business

The advice is fairly standard: despite your desire to leave equal parts of your estate to your children, beware of leaving your business in equal shares to those active in the business and those pursuing other interests.


Unraveling the Mysterious GST

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Outsiders: Troublemakers or Truth Tellers?

The annual family meeting had just begun, and family members from all three branches were filing into their company’s auditorium to listen to the CEO, a third-generation family member, deliver his annual “State of the Business” presentation. He discussed the company’s profitability, the strategic plan, and the family’s plans for management succession.


Market Turmoil Creates Estate Planning Opportunities

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


The Demise of Estate Planning

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Reimbursement of Travel Expenses for Family Meetings

We are planning our first family meeting. Our family is quite large and spread out, so there will be considerable expense involved in getting everyone together.


Death Tax Repeal In Perspective

Among the frustrations of producing a monthly newsletter is that when you read this in September, yesterday’s Senate passage of death tax repeal will be old news.


The Imperial Trustee: Whose Money Is It?

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Business Valuations: A Family Business Tool

Business valuations potentially play a variety of important roles in family businesses. Most commonly, they are an important aspect of estate and gift tax planning in the context of ownership succession planning. Buying or selling of businesses is another obvious area in which valuations are important.​


Inherent Tradeoffs-The Retirement Payoff

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Estate Planning: Steps You Can Take Now

Even if the Bush administration’s death and gift tax repeal is successful, its proposed decade-long phase-in likely will further complicate the lives (and deaths) of families with taxable estates.


When Communication Fails

More and more sibling teams are holding meetings to establish policies and procedures for their future ownership responsibilities. These meetings usually focus on how to make decisions, rules for employment and compensation, dividend levels and valuation procedures.


Pandora's Box

In Greek mythology, Zeus ordered Hephae-stus to create Pandora as vengeance upon man and his benefactor, Prometheus, who had stolen fire from the gods.


Losing Control Through Family Meetings

With four adult children in the business, I increasingly recognize the value of family meetings. I've been hesitant to start the process, however, because I fear losing control.


Giving Up a Dream the Hard Way

Author: David Lansky Source: Professional Insight


Keeping Family in the Family Meeting

We advocate business-owning family meetings that focus on family more than business. A recent meeting of a successful 3rd generation business family we know included these items: Remembrances of Grandma-Many family members voluntarily told stories and memories and were prompted by a slide presentation of old photos. Personal stories-At each meeting one member of the second generation, one from the third and one in-law share their goals, plans, accomplishments and disappointments. Dir


S Corporations: The Medium Is the Message (Part 2)

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Acting in the Face of Uncertainty

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Monitoring the Best Possible Owners

Author: John L. Ward Source: From the Boardroom


Family Reunions and Annual Meetings

Summer is a frequent occasion for annual family shareholder meetings coupled with family reunions. Some fun activities we've seen at such occasions include the following: A family trivia contest exploring the origin of family nicknames, dates of important family events, terms of abstract legal arrangements, etc. A family olympics of sports such as frisbee accuracy, ping pong, egg toss, etc. Family "roast" banquet, teasing each person for something they did during the year. Acknowledgin​


Paying for Family Meetings

Reimbursing family meeting expenses can be a very tricky topic. Yes, we believe family meetings are essential to satisfied, informed and committed shareholders.


Skills for Family Meeting Facilitators

The Loyola University Chicago Family Business Center has initiated a "Family Business Communications Task Force" to stimulate the family meetings process and to help family members develop the skills necessary to facilitate family meetings. At its first meeting, the task force developed its version of the skills necessary to serve effectively as a family meeting facilitator.


Know the Ropes for Successful Family Meetings

According to Steve McClure, a member of the Family Business Consulting Group, the secret to successful family meetings are achieved by “knowing the ropes.” Dr. McClure explains the “Ropes” as follows: R We will all show respect for one another, displaying the same courtesy we show to our customers. O We will be open about our ideas and opinions and will be open to those of others. P Everything said in the meeting will be kept private unless all agree to do otherwise. E No topic will ​


Including Non-Married Partners at Family Meetings

We have a family meeting once a year to inform all family members about the business and to learn together. Now our sons have asked us whether they can bring their spouse/partner as well.


Family Meetings Matter

Author: Ann Dugan Source: Dear Advisor


A Non-Family Chairman in a Time of Need

A large family business was recently faced with a dilemma that confronts many family firms. Two senior family leaders died in quick succession, leaving no family member qualified and ready to assume responsibility.​


Establishing an Effective Board

Author: Norbert Schwarz Source: From the Boardroom


Family Business on a World Scale

John Fentener Van Vlissingen, 62, was born into one of Hollands great family businesses Steenkolen Handelse Vereniging (SHV) and in the mid-1970s, had the opportunity to lead the energy and retailing giant with his two brothers. While remaining a substantial SHV shareholder and director, John decided to pursue an independent career in the financial industry.


How Do We Pick Outside Directors for Our Board?

Author: Craig E. Aronoff Source: The Advisor


Daughter Prepares to Chair at Ruiz Foods

What a difference a decade makes. The past 10 years have brought a blend of stability as well as change to Ruiz Foods and the Ruiz family of central California.


Content of a Family Constitution

The following outlines the common ingredients of a Family Constitution for a business-owning family: Preamble: The purpose and importance of family Family vision Family mission Family philosophy on business ownership


Legal Boards are Better

Author: John L. Ward Source: From the Boardroom


Byrd Droppings: Estate Tax Repeal?

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


AAA Redemptions

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


A Board's Advice on Leadership Development

At a board meeting the family owners asked the independent directors what they felt were the most important developmental experiences next generation leaders should have.


Is Your State Continuing Death Taxes?

As death tax relief eases the federal burden on family business heirs, revenue-hungry states are grabbing bigger chucks of the legacy.


Death Tax Repeal: Window of Opportunity

A bi-partisan movement in Congress is giving new optimism to the increasingly large coalition seeking repeal of U. S. estate taxes. “This summer offers an unprecedented window of opportunity to kill the death tax,” says Harold Apolinsky, who chairs the American Family Business Institute. An estate planning attorney who vows to put himself out of business, Apolinsky has campaigned against the estate tax for over two decades.


Congressional Committee Blasts Estate Tax

The United States Congress’ Joint Economic Committee issued its study on “The Economics of the Estate Tax” in December 1998. Relying in part on research by Craig Aronoff and John Ward, their associates at Kennesaw State and Loyola Chicago universities, and the Arthur Andersen/Mass Mutual American Family Business Survey ‘97, Senior Economist Dan Miller minced no words in the report’s conclusion:


The Sad Story of a Founder Who Can't Let Go

As a young man, he pulled himself up by his bootstraps to become a hero in his industry and his community. His new wrinkles on an old product revitalized his industry and made him a very wealthy man.


Death Tax Gaining Attention

George W. Bush presented his tax cut program in Iowa last December, and his loudest applause came when he called for the elimination of the estate tax. Indeed, every Republican presidential candidate but one were on record favoring estate tax repeal.


Part 3-Estate Tax Repeal? Generation Skipping Relief

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Chair/CEO Roles Increasingly Separate

Common wisdom used to dictate that the chairman and CEO be the same person. Having two leaders at the top just confused things, especially if the chairperson was the ex-CEO.


Should Ex-CEOs Serve On Their Boards?

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Questions for CEOs as Directors

Author: Jim Rosse Source: From the Boardroom


Part 2-Look Ma, No Basis: Estate Tax Repeal

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Political Prognostications: Singin' the Death Tax Repeal Blues

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


President's Proposal Threatens Family Business Estate Plans

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Celebrate the Deceased, Dont Tax Them to Death

Author: Edward J. McCaffery Source: Professional Insight


How Boards Serve Owners' Goals

Author: John L. Ward Source: From The Boardroom


Party Time in Washington: Estate Tax Repealed! (Almost)

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Estate Planning and Repeal

Congress has voted. The bill has been signed. The death tax is repealed--slowly between now and 2010…assuming future Congresses don’t change their minds and the repeal is confirmed when the current bill sunsets in 2011. Ross Nager will provide details and strategy inside The Advisor.


Clinton Administration Leaves: Split-Dollar Devastation

This interruption concerns just one in a series of audacious actions taken by the Clinton administration in the waning hours of his presidency.


Family Businesses Use the Web--and Common Sense

Now that the internet is truly getting down to business and the smoke is clearing, a more realistic appraisal of how the internet can be used as a tool to build profits shows that family businesses are much involved.


Only When Pigs Fly-Part 3: The

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Structuring Your Company for Change

When you consider how best to manage human resources for change, consider how your organization is structured.​


Section 529 Plans-The Fine Print

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Indecent Disclosure: Should You Sing Like a Canary?

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Family Partnerships Under Fire-Again

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Only When Pigs Fly-Part 2

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Only When Pigs Fly: A Leaner Perspective of Life Insurance

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Long-Term Strategies Bring Success to Family Firms

Two large publicly traded family businesses demonstrate the power of long-term strategies, generally unavailable to companies pressured by the market for short-term results.


The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Part 7: What to Do

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Changing Attitudes Toward Family Business Finance

When it comes to finance, no family business has the luxury of hoarding cash forever. Time will force the issue.


Building a Strategic Agenda

We’ve seen several effective ways to keep the board involved and informed with the strategic process.​


"We Expect To Be Treated Like Other Employees..."

In our family business, family-member employees, expect to be treated like any other employee. I am accountable for getting my work done on time and to specs, just like everyone else.


Resisting Manipulation

Non-family employees do not often try to take advantage of a successor’s position.


Update on Flap over FliPs

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Prospering Against the Cycle

We like to offer examples of businesses that exploit their family-owned status to create a valuable strategic competitive advantage.


Overcoming Fear to Make Needed Changes

We know of a large, old family business whose owners agreed to rapid implementation of substantial change. A number of family members involved described what happened as "major surgery": the board’s structure and size changed; naming a bridge president addressed immediate succession decisions; and other steps taken strengthened relationships between business and family.


The IPO Itch: When Consolidators Come Calling

I just don't know what I want to do," said 48-year-old, third-generation president of a regional industrial distribution company. He'd recently received a proposal from a self-described "team with strong Wall Street experience" to "consolidate" his family business with half a dozen or so others to reach "critical national mass" and go public.


Family Businesses Prosper Amid Consolidation

The industry is consolidating and big, publicly traded companies are moving in. Can family businesses survive, much less prosper, in such circumstances? If the paperboard packaging industry is any example, the answer is that independent, family-owned firms can use their flexibility to succeed by exploiting niches and building powerful customer relationships.


Roll-Ups are the Rage

About 90 “roll-ups” have gone public since the first one in 1994, including 50 in 1997, according to CFO Magazine (April, 1998).


Shopping Center Industry Illustrates The "Three Rs" of Family Business; Relationships, Reputation and Risk Management

Despite consolidation, the shopping center industry remains dominated by what are now second and third generation family businesses.


Largest Family Businesses Service Basic Consumer Needs

The 100 largest U.S. family businesses ranked by revenues are a diverse group, but over one-fourth (27) are involved in the production, distribution or retailing of food.


Values Dilemmas (Part II)

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Investment Strategies for Business Owners

In a recent whitepaper titled “Asset Allocation and the Business Owner: Is Your Wealth Management Strategy Ignoring your Biggest Asset?”, authors Christopher Didier and Brian Beaulieu address the risk that business owners face by tying up the vast majority of their wealth in their businesses.


Values Dilemmas

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Have Your Values Created the Ideal Corporation?

Family values permeate family businesses. As you look at larger companies as examples of how to run your business, keep in mind that your values may set the standard for them.


With New Immigrants to U.S., Family Business Traditions Continue

The traditional growth patterns of American family business continues according to data recently released by the U.S. Small Business Administration.


Change Behaviors, Retain Values

Dear Advisor: I recently succeeded my father and have already developed a clear vision and goals for our family business. But I’ve encountered an unexpected problem: The values that I (and our employees)have always viewed as important hallmarks of our company are limiting our ability to move forward.​


Shared Values: 21st Century Organizing Principle

We continuously stress that one of family businesses' primary competitive advantages is their superior potential for generating, articulating and sustaining strong shared values within their business organizations.​


Family Business Values

Over the years we've been fortunate to read the values statements of many business owning families. Many contain similar values, including those on the following list.


What Hershey Teaches Family Businesses

There were tears. People who thought of themselves as closely allied and sharing goals and values found themselves on opposite sides of rancorous arguments.


Strengthening the Family Business Culture

As family businesses mature across generations, businesses often grow larger and more structured. Owning families move apart both geographically and psychologically.


Culture, Strategy and Execution Drive Enterprise

Do you want to be successful as a family business? Here's how: Develop a powerful business culture based on the founder's total commitment to customer service and the employees who serve them. Focus your strategy on a market niche overlooked by your much larger competitors. Execute, execute, execute a management system that combines centralized training and financial controls with decentralized autonomy that allows and encourages employees to provide customers with great service.


Who Controls the Culture?

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Leaving the Family Business to Find Yourself

I’ve been working in the family business since high school. Since graduating from college, I’ve been at it full time.


The Family Business is a Haven from Financial Craziness

The Chicken Littles of the media are again loose in the barnyard. “The sky is falling (subprime mortgages are collapsing)!” “The sky is falling (hedge funds are imploding)!” The sky is falling (a recession is possible)!”


Business Owners: Provide Yourself a Secure Financial Future

A primary reason why family business owners find it difficult to let go, passing the reins of the family business to the next generation, is the lack of a secure source of lifetime income. Sometimes the phrase I will never retire really means, I don't think I can afford to retire because if I stop working, I won't have an income.


Assuring Financial Freedom

The single most common comment we hear from next-generation family leaders while their parent retains managerial control is this: 'The boss won't listen to me; won't let me implement my ideas; won't invest in the things we need to be successful in the future.' These heirs apparent often perceive this behavior very personally, often as a lack of respect, confidence, trust or even love.


Family Business Off-Balance-Sheet Financing

Part of the Enron scandal involved the company’s extensive use of “off-balance-sheet financing.” Interestingly, family businesses also use off balance- sheet financing in very positive ways. The practice can facilitate generational ownership transfer, assist with estate planning, and aid financial management.​


Pricing Stock Redemptions: What's Fair?

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Appraising Actions That Speak Louder Than Words

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Shareholder Redemption Traps: All Gains Are Not Equal-Part 2

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Money is Plentiful: What Easy Credit Means to Family Firms

Why are stock prices so high? Why are interest rates so low? Why are so many merger and acquisition deals being done? Why are you getting more phone calls from people wanting to buy, sell, merge, consolidate, leverage, strategically ally, take public or otherwise financially manipulate your family business?​


Living with Your Will

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


What Should We Do With A Windfall

Our business just had a wonderfully surprising and pleasant "windfall" from the sale of a piece of unused land. We have ten family shareholders, six not employed by the business and four in management. Should we declare a "special dividend" to all the shareholders?


Low Rates Make Intra-Family Loans Attractive

Ive got a great business opportunity but it requires a substantial investment. Venture capital has dried up and banks arent interested in loaning the money. If I go to my parents, theyll be concerned about estate and gift tax issues. What are appropriate terms and conditions?


GM Bankruptcy: Ripple Effects for Family Enterprises

General Motors, one of the nation’s foremost manufacturing icons, officially filed for bankruptcy protection on June 1st. While the news has been anticipated for a few weeks, for many it was still a shock. What remains to be seen is how much this shock reverberates through the broader economy.


Pending Tax Legislation: Sewage, Kids, Surfing and Deferred Compensation

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Trust Rules: Show, Tell and Sell-Part 2

Our state legislatures have been hard at work considering and adopting versions of two uniform trust laws proposed over the past dozen years. Last month, I discussed a controversial Uniform Trust Code provision that requires disclosure of financial information and activities to trust beneficiaries. This months column concerns a development that can greatly affect trusts ability to own interests in family owned businesses. Storm clouds may be gathering over your estate plans.


Trust Rules: Show, Tell and Sell-Part 3

In my last two columns I highlighted two trust rules that can wreak havoc on your plans a requirement for trustees to disclose financial information to beneficiaries and an increasing trend toward rules that could compel the sale of trust-held family business interests.


Trust Rules: Show, Tell and Sell

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Final Round: GRAT vs. PDT

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


GRAT vs. PDT-Battle of the Acronyms

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Round One: GRAT--Battle of the Acronyms

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Round Two: PDT Battle of the Aronyms

Author: Ross Nager Source: Professional Insight


The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Part 2: The Investment Consulting Business

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Part 3: Money Managers Out of the Closet

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Part 5: Market Timing and Rebalancing

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Part 6: The Customer is Always Right?

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


The Emperor Wears No Clothes Part 1: Should It Be

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Leading or Ending with Charity

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Leading With Charity-Building on a Good Foundation:Part 2

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Leading with Charity

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Giving Back

Dear Advisor: We've always tried to "give back" to our community, but in the past, giving has been disorganized and sporadic. I'd like to take a more disciplined approach. Have you any suggestions?


Dividing Up Philanthropic Resources?

Author: Craig E. Aronoff Source: Two Hats


Joint Philanthropy?

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Should the Family Council Handle Philanthropy?

Author: Craig E. Aronoff Source: The Advisor


September 11th Changes Everything

The last thing that Jennifer Borg, vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of North Jersey Media Group, needed in her 60-hour work week was the added responsibility of establishing and administering a non-profit arm of her family's publishing and printing company.


Researchers Suggest CEO "Seasons"

At some point, the positive effects of a CEO's continuing tenure...are outweighed by the negative effects. Job mastery gives way to boredom; exhilaration to fatigue; strategizing to habituation. Outwardly such executives may show few signs of this malaise....inwardly...openness and responsiveness to stimuli are diminished.


Support Groups for CEOs

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Duda Celebrates 75 Years of Growth and Diversification

After 75 years, five generations and several family ventures that include farming and real estate development, A. Duda and Sons, Inc. continues to flourish.


Southwire Retains Its Entrepreneurial Roots

For over half a century, Southwire has produced metal.


Hitting the Wall on Growth

Growth is an aspiration for many family businesses. In fact, if owners want to create opportunities for employment and financial return as the size of the family expands over generations, growth is essential. So why is it easy for some companies to achieve their growth aspirations and difficult for others? A comparison of two successful family businesses demonstrates what it takes to achieve growth.​


Machiavellis The Prince:

Author: John Ward Source: Lessons for Leaders


Next Generation Leadership: Deflecting Credit for Charge and Growth

To achieve dramatic change in a family business, leadership style may be the opposite of dramatic. Jim Kennedy, grandson of company founder James Cox, provides a great example of how personal leadership can support fundamental strategic and organizational change.


Is YPO Good or Bad for Family Businesses?

Dear Advisor: My son wants to join YPO. I’m getting mixed reviews from other business owners in my position about letting him join. What do you think?


AFLAC Prospers under Family Leadership

American Family Life Assurance Co. (AFLAC) prospers under family leadership headed by a second-generation family member. Headquartered in Columbus, GA and best known for a duck that quacks its name, AFLAC is one of America’s most respected insurance companies.


How Family Businesses Thrive in the Green Revolution IRMCO: A Leader in Green Innovation

In his most recent book: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How it Can Renew America, Thomas Friedman argues that the global growth of “American-style” consumption cannot be sustained as it is straining the world-wide resources, the physical environment, and political systems to a point of dangerous instability.


In New Economy or Old: Defining and Living Excellence is the Key

As the story goes, Horace Greeley said “Go West, young man” while he stayed in the East and made a fortune.​


Even When You Do It Right, Be Wary of Talking About It

My brother, CEO of our family's business, recently was interviewed by a local newspaper. He talked about his role in "transforming" the business and "balancing family and business goals." He explained that the business was improved by replacing family with outside directors. And he said that his actions were guided by family business experts.


Handling the Press in Times of Crisis in a Family Business

The family business employing Ms. Norton received extensive coverage concerning a shareholder dispute.​


Diversifying Your Family Business May Make Sense

Business groups owned by families have long made sense in underdeveloped economies. A wide-ranging diversified portfolio could take advantage of the family business’ strengths in brand reputation, social goodwill and government relations.


Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. A Storied Business Taken down by the Current Credit Tsunami

We all understand that we are undergoing some sort of financial crisis. Call it a recession, an economic down-town, or an inevitable dip in the cycle in of otherwise healthy market.


Family Businesses and the Economic Crisis: Is Coping in the Blood

In September 2008, we ran an article entitled Family Business and the Economic Downturn (Green, Vol. XVII Issue 9).


Family Business and the Economic Downturn

Recession, stagflation, deflation, inflation, depression. These are all words used to describe the current economic conditions. While it is too soon to properly define our economic times, we are clearly in the midst of a significant downturn in the United States that will affect economies and citizens around the world.


Managing Owner Expectations During Uncertain Times

I am the third generation CEO of a company owned by myself and three other cousins. I am the only family member working in the business. Over the past five years, our business has done well and we have been able to pay substantial dividends to all shareholders.


The Birds Always Sing After the Rain

Do you remember the Y2K crisis? During the final years of the 1990s there was such concern over the “embedded computer software” switchover to year 2000 that people spent billions of dollars on capital goods to prepare for this transition. Surprise, there was no catastrophe. The vast majority of systems transitioned smoothly.


Are Family Businesses Better Poised to Survive the Current Economic Crisis? Some Hopeful Signs from the Auto Industry

The current economic crisis has impacted most businesses. The automotive sector has been particularly hard hit with a perfect storm of problems both old and new, which could bring down industry giants as well as countless smaller businesses that supply these companies.


Lessons From Ford in Crisis

The circumstances surrounding the recall of the Firestone tires that were standard equipment on Ford Explorers has subjected both companies to media, congressional, legal, public and internal scrutiny.


Reflections on Family Business in India

Senior Editor John L. Ward recently keynoted India’s first family business conference, sponsored by the Congress for Indian Industry.


Saving The World

Journalism was in Alexis Scott Reeves blood. Her Grandfather founded The Atlanta Daily World in 1928 and was among the leading citizens of Auburn Avenue, the caldron of black entrepreneurship and epicenter of the civil rights movement.


Newspaper Families Offer Survival Lessons

Newspaper Families Offer Survival Lessons “Anybody that is still standing has a pretty clear idea of what they want to do with the paper.


Don't Just Build Business, Build Your Organization

One of the primary factors in determining whether a family firm will continue its success across generations is whether the incumbent generation is focused on building a business or building an organization.​


Shared Philosophy Makes Practical Decisions Smoother

As part of managing generational transitions, four siblings and their spouses, the next-generation ownership team, were in the process of reviewing and revising their shareholders’ agreement. Estate planning and corporate attorneys, their accountant, and their family business consultant were on hand as resources and facilitators of the discussion.


Family Business Values Chapter II

To read chapter II titled: The Role of Values in Uniting Family and Business click here.


Attitudes Critical For Sibling Success

Dear Advisor: We’ve heard that control should be invested in one second generation leader. Others suggest creating a sibling team. How can we make it more likely that our sibling team can be effective?​


Packard Foundation Run by Siblings

Philanthropy can be a great way to increase family cohesiveness while stimulating strategic thinking and collective decision making. A case in point involves the four children of David Packard (as in Hewlett-Packard) who all sit on the family foundations board of directors which oversees 9% of the companys stock now worth almost $9 billion. Their task is to give away over $1 million a day in ways that are wise, focused, and effective.


The Evolution of Family Education

Author: Amy M. Schuman and John L. Ward Source: Family Education For Business-Owning Families Chapter 2


Family Influence on Entrepreneurship

Dan Bricklin, the founder of VisiCalc and other businesses, told his story to Harvard Business Review (September 2001). He had several insights on entrepreneurship that will ring true to families in business.​


Leadership, Succession, and the President

Author: Ann Dugan Source: Lessons for Leaders


Discussing the Economy With Your Children

A friend recently told me that he had been discussing the economy with his two daughters, ages five and seven. He and his wife own a government contracting company outside of Washington, DC. Their family business, like many, has been negatively impacted by the economy.


Serial Business Families

Selling the family business can be as emotionally difficult as a death in the family. Some families however, find new beginnings after a sale by going back into business together.


Exit Strategies: Best Practices in Finding, Developing and Retaining NonFamily Successors

My business depends too much on me how will I ever be able to retire? I just can't see my kids stepping up to run this business and I'm not sure I'd let them take over even if they wanted to.


Succession May Not Be Your Biggest Problem

Succession planning is still the family business issue that garners the most focus and attention. The topic dominates seminars, speeches and book sales targeted to business owning families.


Research Reveals: Family Firms Perform Better

Researchers from American University, The University of Alabama and Virginia Tech recently dug deeply into data from the Standard & Poor's 500 companies expecting to find that family firms under perform non-family firms and that minority shareholders are adversely affected by family ownership. Surprise.​


Tyson Merger Raises Succession Questions

“I’m retired more or less,” said the father. His son, now CEO, looked dismayed. Asked why he’s troubled, the younger man replied: “I never know when he’s retired more or when he’s retired less.”


Conflict in Land-Based Family Businesses

The land-based family business represents many things to a family member who has inherited or will inherit part of the farm, ranch, vineyard, forest, dairy, or plantation: The land is the homestead, the parents’ or grandparents’ home, or a compound setting where several relatives live, maybe even complete with a family cemetery.


Non-Family Employee Question

Author: Mark Green Source: The Advisor


Fire Drills for Family Business

Remember your school days when you were sitting in the classroom and all of a sudden you heard the loud sound of an alarm bell? At first you were startled, but after some quick instructions from your teacher, you lined up and exited the room.


National Family Business Survey 2007 Results

A new nationwide survey on family businesses, titled Laird Norton Tyee Family Business Survey: Family to Family 2007 (, shows that family businesses are confident in their futures but are still challenged by the need to professionalize in terms of improving governance and strategic planning and pursuing business growth


Differences of Opinion Between In-laws

Author: Mark Green Source: The Advisor


Creating a Climate for Good Communication

While taking individual responsibility for good communication is essential, what a business-owning family can do as a group to improve communications offers almost unlimited possibilities.


Does Your Family Business Need a Conflict-Of-Interest Policy?

The fundamental question that needs to be explored and decided is: Can family members do business with the business? For example, your son is an architect. Should he be hired to design the family firm's new cafeteria? Or, you don't work in the family business but you're a shareholder; you're also a licensed pilot and you own your own airplane.


Dialing In to A Family Meeting

Author: Sharon Krone Source: Professional Insight


Benefits of Coaching in the Family Firm

Author: Penny Webb Source: FBA


The Non-Family Executive and the Family AEO: A Marriage of Reason with Shared Passion

Some business families have learned how to work effectively with non-family executives (NFEs). Others struggle to find the right way to give a non-family executive management responsibility. It is not an easy decision, especially the first time.


DNA Rejection in the Family Firm

Author: Penny Webb Source: FBA


How Strong is Your Family?

What makes a strong family? University of Nebraska researchers Nick Stinnett and John DeFrain have identified six major qualities that strong families share: commitment, appreciation, communication, time, spiritual wellness and coping ability.


Empowering the Next Generation with the Future

The decision to turn an enterprise into a family business by bringing one's children into ownership or management is among the most profound and petrifying that an entrepreneur can make.


Forming the First Family Council: Some Practical Issues

The importance of a Family Council is becoming well known to business-owning families. Yet starting one poses several tricky dilemmas.


Family Guidelines for a Business Board

by Craig E. Aronoff In its fourth generation, a substantial family business decided to add outsiders to its board. Concerned family leaders wished to assure that outsiders understood and would abide by the familys goals and values. To accomplish that, the family prepared guidelines for the board of directors. We think their effort is instructive for all family businesses.


Harnessing the Power of Your Board

Author: John L. Ward Source: From the Boardroom


Helping a Smart Board Also Be Wise

Author: John L. Ward Source: Professional Insight


Maximizing the Board's Value

Author: John L. Ward Source: From the Boardroom


A Chairman Defines His Role

We know a thoughtful family business leader who is retiring as CEO, but will continue as chairman of the board.


Were All in Agreement, Why Do We Need to Keep Talking About Succession?

Family business succession is a process known for generating strong emotions. When these emotions are not addressed, they may have a negative effect on the individuals directly involved, the broader family and the business as well.


Adapting: A Key Skill for Thriving in 2010

Author: Joe Schmeider Source: FBA


Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves

In virtually every language there is a similar, fatalistic view of family wealth and enterprise. In England they comment, 'From clogs to clogs in three generations.


Graceful Exits: The Art of Board Revitalization

By Chris Eckrich and Stephen McClure At some point in the life of many boards, founders and their families realize the business will benefit from adding new blood to the board.


"Houston, We Have a Problem" with Family Pay: How Do We Fix It?

Compensation of family employees may create problems for family members in the business as well as those who are not.


To Be or Not To Be: Should an In-Law Join the Family Business?

Throughout history, marriages have been about more than the joining together of two people in love. They also have been strategic, emotional and sometimes economic mergers of families.


Scheduling Family Meetings: A Surprising Lightening Rod for Family Conflict

The research is clear: regular family meetings play a critical role in successful family business longevity. Among the many reasons that families do not hold regular family business meetings is that the very basic task of finding and scheduling a mutually acceptable time and place for the meeting may appear to be impossible.


The Importance of Family Business Philanthropy

By Craig Aronoff, Ph.D. and John Ward, Ph.D. The next generation CEO of a successful family business expressed dismay and surprise about part of his job experience:


Successful Ownership Transitions Rest on Strong, Knowledgable Shareholders

A cohesive, well-informed shareholder group is a tremendous competitive advantage for family businesses.


Five Questions to Help You Think About Joining the Family Business

Anyone who is considering joining the family business would do well to consider five questions Jack and Suzy Welch raise for anyone considering a new job in their BusinessWeek column. We’ve paraphrased them here and added the family business dimension.


Who Tells Them?

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Part 2: Party Time

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight


Greatness in a Family Business

Author: Joe Schmieder Source: FBA


Report Cards as a Family Business Tool

For those of you with children – or those who fondly remember the excitement surrounding this “back to school” season – thinking about report cards this time of year will make sense.


When Should Spouses Attend Sibling Meetings?

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Family Business and Family Fun

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


First Family Meeting

Author: Jennifer M. Pendergast Source: The Advisor


Who Are You? What Do You Believe? What Is It You Want To Do?

Author: JoAnne Norton Source: The Family Business Advisor


Transitioning the Board for a New Generation

From the time he bought out his brother-in-law's business, the CEO was committed to excellent management, growing the business to make it attractive to suppliers and customers, and giving his children opportunities for leadership and ownership.


Toward Greater Objectivity on your Board

Author: Christopher J. Eckrich & Stephen L. McClure Source: Professional Insight


The Succession Task Force: A Tool for Managing Challenging Times

Intergenerational business leadership successions present specific challenges, including letting go for the outgoing generation and preparing to take charge for those in the next generation.


Standards for Evaluating Family Business Practice and Behavior

I recently attended a long-time-client’s board meeting. Having helped the business transition from its second to its third generation, I was now seeing it move on to its fourth generation of family ownership and management.


Sharing Family Resorts, Cottages and Lodges: Part 2

Author: Christopher Eckrich, Stephen McClure and Ross Nager Source: Professional Insight


Seven Steps to Sustainability in Family Business - A Cautionary Tale

Author: JoAnne Norton, Ed.D. Source: The Family Business Advisor


Managing Your Board

Author: Norbert Schwarz Source: From The Boardroom


How Boards Serve Owners Values

It is essential that owners be clear on the values they want exemplified in the business. These values should be passed on to management and the board.


How Successful Business Families Get That Way

Over the years, we've been blessed with the opportunity to meet and study many of the world's oldest and largest family firms. Were impressed with how often we find them practicing similar methods of achieving success.


Innovation: The Worst of Times and the Best of Times

It was in the middle of winter in 1930, the heart of the Great Depression, when Howard Tuthill walked through the cavernous factory thinking about what to do with his family’s business.


Family Commitment Yields Transition Success

Author: Craig Aronoff Source: The Family Business Advisor


Who Owns the Family Agenda?

The Doe family is holding their second family meeting. John Sr. stands up and reviews the minutes from the last meeting.


Family Meeting Ideas

A family evolving from four second-generation sibling owners to 15 in the third had members of the cousin group interview family members of the second generation. (See below.) The interviews were then presented at a family meeting.


Family Business Succession: 15 Guidelines

By: John L. Ward, Ph.D. and Stephen L. McClure, Ph.D. Succession is the most painful and critical time for family businesses. Less than one-third of family businesses survive into the second generation, and only about 13 percent make it into the third generation.


Criteria for Evaluating the Board

As his title suggests, Robert Neuschel, Professor of Corporate Governance at the Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, studies boards of directors.


Creating Win-Wins for Non-Family Executives

Author: JoAnne Norton Source: FBA


Considerations for the Nonfamily CEO

Increasingly, we see family businesses seek candidates from outside the family to fill the position of CEO.


Choosing Among Siblings

Family businesses are an increasingly attractive career choice for the children of business owners—even when more than one child joins the business.


Board Candidate Interviews

Author: Norbert Schwarz Source: From the Boardroom


Advice to the Next Generation from their "Elders"

Keep your sense of humor. All crises will pass and be replaced with new ones.


What Kind of Board?

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Confidentiality in the Information Age

In the age of always-on information, the line between public and private is becoming increasingly blurred.​


Owners By Choice

Owners by Choice By Craig E. Aronoff and John L. Ward Many family business owners don’t choose to become owners. They become owners by inheritance or gift. Regardless of how an owner becomes one, we believe that remaining an owner should be a matter of thoughtful choice. A family business deserves owners who want to be owners, not owners who are forced to be owners. Little could be worse for a business than having uncommitted, unhappy owners. Yet many miserable shareholders continue as​


Justice Among Children

I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall over how to divide my estate among my adult children. I am torn as to how to look at the issue; as a father or as a chairman:


"Piggy Bank"

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Entrepreneurial Family Business Success Factors

A recent study of 15 family businesses by Israeli consultants Orenia Yanai, Ph.D. and Tamar Milo, Ph.D. revealed ten key success factors for the entrepreneurial family businesses—that is family businesses where entrepreneurship is modeled and supported.


Letting Go of the Original Business

Having succeeded his father as president of the family’s traditional business, a brother was struggling to return the company to profitability. Over the years, thanks to opportunities generated by the original business, the family embarked on new ventures.


Reflections on the Family Business Advisor

Author: Craig Arnoff and John Ward Source: FBA


Are You Listening?

Author: Bernard Kliska Source: Professional Insight


How to Succeed as a non-CEO family business

Dear Advisor: I am the first non-family CEO of a $45 million sales family business. I've been employed at my company for nearly 30 years and care deeply for the owning family. I'm often asked to become involved with family issues as well as business matters. What advice can you offer me in my new position?​


Summer Jobs for Family

There are lots of good reasons to hire your children for summer jobs: get them up in the morning and give them a chance to be productive; provide a tax deductible allowance; fill an important business need; or intrigue them into a future with the family business. But as with most family-business decisions, extra care is required because such decisions affect both the family and the business.


The Myths About Family Business Growth

Most of us assume that growth for your family business is good, but that's not necessarily true. When they choose to grow, family businesses need to pursue healthy growth, which means growth that is sustainable and profitable. Growth though can have its dark side. Some family business owners pursue growth for the wrong reasons. They set on a course of expansion and, because they have not planned carefully enough, soon find the business is out of control.


How to Succeed in a Family Business

Family business consultants have found it useful to understand whether the business we are working with is a family-first business or a business-first business.



Two brothers, both executives of a large furniture company, wanted to take out a considerable loan to expand the company. Absolutely not, said the CEO, who was also their father.


Pay Issues Vary with Family Business Stages

Author: Craig E. Aronoff & John L. Ward Source: Professional Insight


An Open Letter to the Non-Family Executive

If you’re a new non-family executive in a family company, or if you’re thinking about accepting a management position in a family firm, you may be wondering how to make the experience a successful one.​


Do You Need a Therapist or a Coach?

Author: Bernard Kliska Source: Professional Insight


Keeping Conflict in Play or at Bay? Old Habits Play a Role in Family Business

Most business owners would agree that some amount of conflict is simply a routine part of running a business. But conflict within a family-owned and -managed company usually brings additional unique challenges that include everything from weighing sound decisions as a board of directors made up primarily of family members to managing entrenched sibling rivalries in day-to-day interactions.


Contrasts in Employment Policies

Family business experts promote the value of writing policies to govern the relationship of family to business. By putting policies on paper, family members are forced to come to a consensus on their views.


Who Belongs on a Family Council

As our family has grown over the years (we currently have G2 and G3 involved in the business), we have decided to set up a family council for the first time in order to better manage the family/business overlap. However, we have run into a problem before we can even start, as there is a serious disagreement among family members about how, and if, to include spouses.


What Does Non-Family Management Want From Ownership?

Recently a small group of non-family CEOs of significant family firms met together. They discussed what they would like from the family owners of their businesses.


In-Law Loses Marriage, Keeps Job

After a recent divorce, I expected my father to fire my ex-husband from his job at our family business. To my surprise, he did not.


From To Control To Accountability

By The Family Business Consulting Group "It's not my fault that Dad set things up as he did. I didn’t ask for it and if it were up to me, I’d change it. But it isn’t my call.”


Security for Ex-Spouses

Last month, your “Two Hats” column talked about making the pre-nuptial process less dreaded by communicating early with the children. We’ve done that, and as a business owning family, we have long required pre-nuptial agreements, and all of our children have them.


Preparing for a Divorce

Dear Advisor: Unfortunately, our family business is confronted with a divorce.


How To Protect Your Business in a Divorce Action

“I’m going through a divorce and its getting nasty,” said the next generation leader of a family business.​


Should an In-law Become CEO?

Author: Craig Aronoff Source: The Advisor


Perspectives on Resentment

Many family firms have been started by or built by two brothers. They slave together, trust each other, and more important, have complementary skills.


The Role of In-Laws

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Advice From Attorneys: Beware Myths About Pre-Nups, Estate Plans and Liquity Agreements

“Three specific areas of legal services offered to family businesses are uniquely clouded with myths or misunderstandings or remain unused because of lack of awareness,” write attorneys Henry C. Krasnow and Robin L. Wolkoff in the Fall, 1998 issue of Family Business Review.


Don't Complain about Siblings to Spouses

“Ethan never takes me seriously,” Bryan complained to his wife about his older brother, the CEO. “I’m the Vice President of sales, for God’s sake.


Nordstrom Breaks Up Co-Presidency

Sometimes co-leadership is the right way to go. And sometimes it is not. National retailer, Nordstrom, a publicly-traded, family-dominated business, has provided a great example of the former.


The Balanced Scorecard, Revisited

Many family companies are embracing the balanced scorecard approach to managing and evaluating business performance.


Inventory Turns and Family Missions

“I don’t get it,” said the adult grandson of the founder of a substantial distribution business. Although not active in the business, he regularly attended family meetings.


Changing Dad's Strategy

Successors often face the challenge of changing a heroic predecessors successful business philosophy.​


Common Independent Director Assumptions

For years we have relentlessly urged family firms to add independent directors to their boards. The value for strategic thinking and succession process reinforcement is beyond calculation.


Why Don't More Family Firms Have Independent Directors

We recently surveyed about 80 family business leaders as to why they don't have independent outsiders on their Board of Directors.


Fighting the Family Feuds

Author: Bernard Kliska and Christopher Eckrich Source: Professional Insight


Tough Economic Times Put Family Businesses to the Test

In last month’s Family Business Advisor®, we explored the impact of tough economic times on family businesses. This month, we provide some suggestions on how family businesses can prepare for and deal with an economic slowdown.


Tough Economic Times Put Family Businesses to the Test

In last month’s Family Business Advisor®, we explored the impact of tough economic times on family businesses. This month, we provide some suggestions on how family businesses can prepare for and deal with an economic slowdown.


Must the Prince Kill the King?

Author: Albert Jan Thomassen Source: The Family Business Advisor


To Grow or Not To Grow?

A five-man, fourth generation cousins team, the next generation of owner/managers at a substantial regional contractor shared their vision for their company s future.


Are Family Businesses Better Poised to Survive Recession?

The current economic crisis has impacted most businesses. The automotive sector has been particularly hard hit with a perfect storm of problems both old and new, which could bring down industry giants as well as countless smaller businesses that supply these companies.


Family Business Incorporates Community Commitment

Of the four kids, two weren’t interested but two entered the chemical business their grandfather founded. It was just to support their community service work.


The Three Fears of Retirement

Author: Bernard Kliska


Key Man Insurance for Motorcyclist Successor

Dear Advisor: I recently made my 35-year-old son president of our company. His performance on the job is fine, but I have a real problem with him.


Independent Insurance Agencies Face Succession Challenges

Independent insurance agencies are facing all the challenges of other small family businesses. As senior principals prepare to step down, they rely on proceeds from buy-outs to fund their retirements.


One Family's

"My family is not only in the timber business, but also in the relationship business," says Thompson. "If I'm going to do business with you, I want to be your friend. I use my family's forestlands to build friendships that help me grow my family's business on the land where we also grow timber."


Changing The Rules: New Goals for Older Entrepreneurs

"I believe in goals. I always have," said the 68-year-old CEO of a family real estate business. "Goals keep you disciplined and focused."



Forbes recently coined a new term in reference to family business offspring who lead their organization’s E-commerce initiatives. The term is “cyberscion” and Forbes applies it to J. Daniel Nordstrom, 37, who is developing as the “world’s biggest shoe store.”


When Family Strategy Gives Competitive Advantage

We’ve recently seen several examples of a class of businesses especially suitable and rewarding for family ownership: people-sensitive service businesses in fragmented industries that require well-located real estate.


Family Business Competitive Advantages Revealed In Tough Times

In the bubbling 1990s, in the new-instant-global economy, family business sometimes seemed out-of-date, slow, even boring. Family business certainly was not “the new, new thing.” It wasn’t the place where you would “first, break all the rules.” Family businesses, unlike Bill Gates, didn’t “move at the speed of thought.” The common wisdom of the new economy seemed to leave family business behind.


Dividing the Family's Assets

By Drew S. Mendoza Dear Advisor: I’m thinking of avoiding problems among my children by leaving the business to those active in running it and the land and building to those not involved. What do you think?


First...Break All the Rules: Revisiting Gibraltar Steel

By Carol Ryan In the inaugural edition of the Family Business Advisor®, our first cover story was entitled: “Building a Business for the Family: Gibralter Steel.” The founder, Dr. Ken Lipke, was a chiropractor with a dream. “His vision was to have a business in which his entire family could be involved…Ken Lipke had a dream, and a belief in his ability to make it a reality.” (Quote from Issue 1, Volume 1, the Family Business Advisor®, 1992.) Eighteen years after that quote appeared in the F​


Planting the First Seeds of Family Business Education

By Stephanie Brun de Pontet, Ph.D. Few business owners formally plan a program of education about the family business for their kids. Whether or not you have a structured program, you are teaching your kids every day, from a very young age, about the business through your deeds and words.


How Do I Bring My Son Back to the Business?

My son, in his early 20s with a degree in economics, asked me if he could spend a couple of years pursuing his interest in writing.



With college graduation—and especially with the completion of graduate school—comes the prospect of joining the family business. For those who wish to move into an employment position at the family’s business, we offer ten tips.


Considering a Sale of the Family Business?

Determine whether it is a good deal for you and the other shareholders, and perhaps even the more emotionally connected stakeholders like employees and vendors.


To Sell or Not Sell: That is the Question

By Bernard Kliska Hamlet, Shakespeare’s melancholy Dane, vacillated so long trying to make up his mind about whether to move forward with his plans that his indecision finally threw the entire kingdom into turmoil and brought about his own death.


Owners' Discussion on Selling the Business

In our previous issue, we discussed reasons that a family might decide to sell its business. In this issue, we address the difficult subject of how to discuss selling with the ownership group.


My Dad Wants to Sell the Business

I am a 40-year-old single mom who has worked in our family business for the last 15 years. My father has been approached to sell the business and is not asking for my input. I have always thought that I would take it over, and now I am worried that I won’t have the opportunity. What should I do?


Selling a Business That Dad Built

Author: John L. Ward Source: Two Hats


Rueing the Sale

We've seen this story too many times. A new generation takes the helm of a successful third generation family business in a mature, slow-growth industry.


Buyout Boom is Receding, but Most Families Hold On

Over the past several years, we’ve urged owners of family firms to become more sophisticated in their understanding of finance and financial terminology.


An Unlikely Heroine: Family Members Can Offer Transition Leadership

She was of a generation whose women were not seen as potential leaders in the business. She played out her role of motherhood and community service--raising a bunch of children, heading PTA and school board, and then running a museum.


Questions Can Ease Generational Transitions

At each generational transition, business-owning families face many questions. The older generation is appropriately concerned about the younger generations= intentions, especially when several siblings or cousins will be involved.


Next Generation Grows 400% After 53 Year Old Founder Retires

Marvin Tibbetts founded and ran Decatur, Georgia-based Tibs Group (formerly Tib's Electrical Service Company) for 25 years. At 53, bent on pursuing other interests, he considered selling the successful electrical contracting firm to fund his retirement. His sons had other ideas; they were passionate about taking over and growing the business. Today, he knows that giving them the opportunity to do so was the right choice.


Moving Out of the Corner Office

Leadership transition is often difficult for family business CEOs. Personal habits are hard to change and the perquisites of the position can be hard to give up. Sometimes a leader is willing to give up his “office”---that is the title and responsibilities of the CEO position---but just wants to keep his “office,” his familiar personal space at work. An incumbent but retiring CEO can be of two minds about the geography of headquarters.


A Family Employment Policy Answers Questions

Hal Jackson’s goals in life are pretty straightforward. All he wants is a successful business and a happy family.


What Should an Employment Policy Contain?

Author: Jennifer Pendergast Source: The Advisor


Family Policies on Hiring and Finance

Please tell us your recommended policy on hiring owner-related employees. Also, please give us some advice on how to finance continuing growth at 15 - 20% per year, while allowing for some withdrawal of some cash for the founder's retirement.


Employing Family Members as Vendors and Supplier

As businesses and families grow over time, it is highly likely that, at some point, a family member will ask or be invited to provide services or be a supplier to the family business.


Conflicts of Interest

Like all conflict-of-interest situations there’ a lot of gray. And, of course, family has the instinct to help family and to feel help is deserved. Besides,it is good for the family business to have as many “connected” family shareholders as possible. In Case A we’re tempted to be empathetic with the family member in the advertising business. Her vocation is sincere; her options are limited; and she’s paying a price by losing other opportunities because she’s a family member and wants to live in​


Sources of Conflict: Family Business "Hot Spots"

Through the years we've noticed several common issues that cause flare-ups or conflicts for a family in business.


Using a Mediator for Family Business Disputes

The word “conflict” has had bad press. Rather than seeing conflict as a natural and predictable aspect of human interaction—a process that, if managed properly, can often lead to growth and new solutions—people tend to see it as a failure on the part of the disputants.


Winning with Ownership Team Defense

Following a consultant’s suggestion, my kids and their spouses aged 30-45 have been meeting quarterly for several years to build their “sibling ownership team.” I recently attended one of their meetings and they still seemed to squabble like infants. There was a big blow-up about one sib and spouse not attending all of a group meeting and the in-law stalked out of the room. We have good management that includes several of the kids, a solid board and a sound business. But, having seen their behav​


Firing a Family Member

If you think firing a long-term employee is difficult, try firing one who is a family member. As daunting the task may be, sometimes it's necessary. Any major firing threatens to disrupt a business, creating fear, anxiety and shifting alliances among employees. But the disconcerting and disruptive ripples from firing a family member may spread throughout the family as well. Handling this difficult matter the right way can limit emotional damage to the family and business and, with good communi


Enhance Communication and Avoiding Misunderstandings

Good communication is one of the most important survival skills for a successful family business. Unfortunately, despite all our brainpower (or maybe because of it), human beings are imperfect communicators, and imperfect communication often generates conflict.


Mom and Dad Won't Talk

"I've been working at the company owned by my parents for seven years and every time I try to talk to them about a transition plan for ownership, they put me off. What can I do about it?” This is a question that family business consultants often hear.


Putting Coaching to Work in the Family Business

BY KENT RHODES In A December 2001 articles entitled “Executive Coaching Helps Companies Achieve Goals,” the Wall Street Journal declared, “Perhaps the most important and direct benefit of good executive coaching is the new development of high-impact future leaders.” Since then, the coaching industry has grown, and executive coaching has gained wider acceptance as a valuable tool in developing leaders, increasing quality management performance and linking that performance to specific succ​


Don't Answer Too Quickly

Who should be my successor? How much of our profits should we distribute to shareholders? Should we invite my nephew into the business? How much debt should we have on our balance sheet? We hear questions like these almost every day.


The Family Forum: A Wealth of Advice for Family Firms

If you are a subscriber to the Family Business Adviser, you have already proven that you are a student of family business, someone who actively seeks to learn more about family businesses and how they work. Reading this publication, as well as other books and articles on family business, is a great way to learn more about how to make a family business successful. But sometimes reading doesn’t address your concerns. Either the information doesn’t seem applicable, or you have questions about al​


A Flexible Response to Unanswered Questions

Yours is not an unusual dilemma. With four children who are passionate about their independence and proudly pursuing varied interests, a successful family business we know faced a situation similar to yours in a very creative fashion.


Forcing Succession: An Ultimatum at Alberto-Culver

At 74, the company’s founder, chairman and CEO, seemed tired. A legend in his industry, he’d become set in his ways. Marketing suffered.


Healthy Motivations For Family Business Succession

Author: Carl Terry Plochman, III Talking about succession planning for family business is a challenge. It's a rich topic, there are few clear rules, and each family's view of succession is illuminated (or obfuscated) by the family's values and capacity for self-awareness.


Succession, Buffett Style

In many ways, Berkshire-Hathaway is a family business. Chairman Warren Buffet has voting control of the company, and while his family fortune is in tens of billions of dollars, like many business owning families, the vast majority of his familys net worth is in the business.


What Makes an Excellent Family Business Consultant?

Recently, another publication focused on a list of characteristics family businesses felt were desirable in family business consultants.


Supporting the Successor

Author: John W. Ward Source: From the Boardroom


Succession Scenarios

As the oldest of four children, Seth had wanted to join and lead his familys business for as long as he could remember. As a child, going to the office with his father was his favorite activity.


Men, Women, and Money

Author: David Lansky Successful business people understand that to work effectively with a diverse base of clients, suppliers and other stakeholders they must strive to understand and appreciate basic cultural expectations and practices which may be different than their own. This makes sense—otherwise, they risk offending these stakeholders and may fail to get accurate information. But how often are the differences between men and women—gender roles and expectations—that also have an impact o​


How Can We Have More Accountability in Our Family Business?

By Amy Schuman and Christopher J. Eckrich, Ph.D. One of the most common questions we hear from business owning families is the request for help in building accountability. Often, the question focuses on the behavior of a specific family member who is employed by the business, but sometimes there is a feeling that accountability is lacking company-wide. Either way, the solution to the issue almost always requires both organizational and individual adjustments.


Economic or Emotional Decisions

Our family business has grown substantially and quite profitably over the years, but our industry is changing rapidly. Occasionally, Dad wonders aloud whether he should sell the business.


Ham Sandwich: A Few Things That Truly Matter in Family Constitutions

Many business families have family constitutions-- a document outlining the beliefs, values and policies of the family. Many others have at least considered writing one.


Building Passion in the Business

By Jennifer M. Pendergast, Ph.D. In many family businesses, the elder generation’s dream is to pass on the legacy to the next generation. The response of the next generation is widely varied. Some show no interest in entering the business, even to the point of resenting the impact the business has had on their lives. Others may enter because they see it as their best career option, but would not have chosen the business had it not chosen them. Many feel a sense of obligation to the family


Three Reasons Why 2010 Presents a Succession Planning Opportunity

Author: Stephanie Brun de Pontet One figure I recently came across from the Small Business Administration suggests that fully 90 percent of the 21 million U.S. businesses are family owned. As many of these companies are owned by baby boomers who are nearing retirement age, and given the well-documented failure rate of family businesses at the point of generational transition, there is concern that the economy could be profoundly adversely affected in the coming years if we don’t all get bette​


Facing Up to a Loved Ones Addiction

Melvin, the head of a family business, is known for his tremendous drive. But now, at age 55, he has really kicked into high gear. His son Steven will take over the business in a few years, and Melvin wants to leave the company in the best possible shape.


Grappling with Complexity and Uncertainty

Author: Ross W. Nager Source: Professional Insight I'll never forget a conversation a few years ago with a mutual client's attorney concerning the then new phenomenon of trusts that theoretically can last forever. I can't predict what the family, economy, business and the investment world will be like 500 years from now! How can you expect me to write an irrevocable, unchangeable trust instrument to address those kinds of uncertainties? Let's just stick with a typical trust that has to en​


Evolution of Our Work Ethic: From Workaholic to Zenployment?

“I had to walk five miles to school, uphill both ways” is a rendition of a story you have likely heard before from a senior-generation family member. Times were tough and difficult sacrifices were made for both the family and the business.


Consumers Trust Family Business Products

SC Johnson & Son, Inc., the household products leader that promotes itself as “A Family Company,” is putting a face to its name with a new ad series featuring corporate patriarch, Samuel C. Johnson.


Researchers Find: Psychotherapists Biased Against Family Firms

Psychotherapists may be biased against family businesses. As a result, clinicians “may influence or even encourage the working parent to leave the family-owned business rather than work out the issues at hand” according to R. Phillip Colon, Ph.D.


How Young Successors Cope With Stress

By Craig E. Aronoff, Ph.D. and John L. Ward, Ph.D. Being in the family business isn't as easy as many think...I often feel like I'm in a fishbowl -- with everyone eager to judge and test me. They say it's lonely at the top, but it's also lonely being the son or daughter of the "top." Who can I talk to? Who can I trust? Young family successors to the family business are in a unique situation. It's hard to imagine any working arrangement more complex -- and few more stressful.


Family Businesses in the Age of Anxiety

There’s plenty for family businesses to be anxious about these days. But the truth is, during anxious and uncertain times, family businesses are better situated than most other businesses not only to survive, but to grow and prosper.


Family Businesses in the Age of Anxiety

There hasn’t been this much fear and uncertainty, lack of confidence in what the future will bring, along with questions of reliability of our government and corporate leaders since the Great Depression.​


Laird Norton Hires Non-Family CEO-Divides Responsibilities Between Company & Family Office

Laird Norton Company LLC, a multi-generational family-owned business founded in 1855, recently announced that it has hired a chief executive officer to oversee its business operations and various investments.​


The Psychology of Wealth

Author: Denise Kenyon-Rouvinez Source: FBA


The Psychology of Wealth

Author: Denise Kenyon-Rouvinez Source: Professional Insight


Straight Talk from the Experts: Doug Mellinger on Family Philanthropy

By Jennifer M. Pendergast, Ph.D. Doug Mellinger, founder of Foundation Source, is a strong proponent of family philanthropy. Foundation Source is the nation's leading provider of outsourced support services for private foundations. The Company provides "back-office" administrative and accounting, an internet technology platform and a support team to enable the family to focus on giving in a productive way.


Talking About Wealth

Judging from prime-time TV, wanting to be a millionaire seems a greater obsession than ever--just when $1,000,000 no longer qualifies one as wealthy.


Three Reasons Why 2010 Presents a Succession Planning Opportunity

By Stephanie Brun de Pontet, Ph.D. One figure I recently came across from the Small Business Administration suggests that fully 90 percent of the 21 million U.S. businesses are family owned. As many of these companies are owned by baby boomers who are nearing retirement age, and given the well-documented failure rate of family businesses at the point of generational transition, there is concern that the economy could be profoundly adversely affected in the coming years if we don’t all get bet​


Bundle of Sticks

The underlying message found in the parable of “the bundle of sticks” may provide the basis for long-lived family business success.


Sibling CEOs of Different Companies

Can more than one child in a family truly be qualified to head a business? Judging from the number of siblings that simultaneously have reached the top of different businesses, a single family can produce multiple business leaders.


Leading Family Members in the Business

Dear Advisor: I've just become the third generation president of a $28 million (annual sales), 63-year-old family firm with 180 employees. Five relatives are now in the business. We are still profitable, but things are much tighter than they used to be.


Succession Lessons at The New York Times

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., 40, succeeded his father as publisher of The New York Times in January. The fifth family member, representing four generations, to lead The Times in 96 years of family control, he will oversee all aspects of the newspaper.


Opus Corporation Founder Empowers His Brood of Seven

Never underestimate the power of a parent, especially when it comes to inspiring charitable deeds. Gerald Rauenhorst, the 77-year-old founding chairman of the $1.1 billion, family-owned Opus Group, a Minnesota-based design-build developer that has delivered more than 2,100 projects nationwide, learned his early lessons of philanthropy from his father, Henry Theodore Rauenhorst, a tenant farmer


A Lesson in Growing Up: Empowerment, Economics and Karate Lessons

My daughter, Emily, 13, greatly enjoys karate classes. I’m told that martial arts training provides a sense of empowerment. However, lessons, uniforms, and equipment quickly add up to real dollars.


New Strategy Attracts the Next Generation

For more than 45 years, Bob Giacomini had run a successful dairy on 700 acres of gently rolling farmland in scenic Point Reyes, CA. His father and grandfather, an Italian immigrant, were northern California dairymen too.


Are Next-Generation Family Members Qualified to Lead

By Jennifer M. Pendergast, Ph.D. “Do I deserve this job?” This is a question many next-generation employees in family businesses ask themselves. Some are filled with self-doubt, thinking the only reason they have their jobs is because they were born with the right last name. Others may feel fully qualified but may struggle with the skepticism they perceive from other family members or nonfamily employees who doubt their qualifications.


J.W. Marriott, Jr. on Family Business

Marriott International celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2002. J. W. Marriott, Jr., the founder’s son, serves as chairman and CEO of the $20 billion sales company with 140,000 employees in 65 countries.​


Soliciting Suppliers

Dear Advisor: We will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of our family business next year and are undertaking preparations to celebrate the occasion. Some family members suggest we solicit our suppliers for monies for an employee scholarship fund in honor of the occasion. Others feel that doing so is sort of "strong-arming" our suppliers. What do you think?


Nepotism as HR Policy

Stew Leonard's, the New York-area family-owned specialty grocery chain that is a legend in retailing, takes nepotism very seriously.


When Does the Board Get Involved in "Vision"?

One difficult challenge facing conscientious new CEOs (especially successor CEOs) is to conceptualize and pull together a strong vision for the business. They know that a clearly articulated vision can focus, motivate and energize the organization.


How to Get a Family Business Career Back on Track Following a Disappointing Start

A young, next-generation family member joins the family’s business. In the best-case scenario, he or she joins the business with some skills and outside work experience, a good attitude, and an appreciation for the opportunity presented.


Teambuilding in the Family Business

Author: Norbert Schwarz Source: For Your Bookshelf


Family Goals: The Beginning and the End

If you dont know where you are going, any road will get you there. In business it is perfectly clear success ultimately depends on the ability to establish challenging but appropriate goals and to achieve them.


Best Practices for Managing Key Non-Family Executives

1. Have a family employment policy and share it with your key non-family employees. 2. Have a compensation policy that applies to all employees.


Calling In a Non-Family CEO

After graduating from a top business school and three years of successful employment at a major customer, he joined his family’s business. By age 30, he headed a major new product launch. At 35, he was named to the board of directors; at 43, he was COO and at 44, he was named president and CEO. Viewed by some as a member of the lucky sperm club, he insists, “Any achievement I made was because of my hard work. I had to work twice as hard for half the credit, just because I have this last name.” ​


Family Business is No Excuse

We're a family business. When we work with family businesses trying to understand their goals and practices, we ask many questions about behaviors we observe, thought processes we confront and actions that we see.


Back to the Basics: The Role of Values in Family Enterprise

Author: Chris Eckrich Source: The Family Business Advisor


A Non-Family Exec Worries About the Future

“When I look into my future, I can’t see staying with this business.” The speaker was a 40-ish, key non-family executive in a rapidly growing family-owned business.


What to Look for in a Non-Family CEO

We recently interviewed an executive who has served as non-family CEO for three different families over his 30-year business career. Twice, he was a successful bridge CEO between generations of family leadership. The third case assignment didn't work out as well. When a septuagenarian owner, jealous over the non-family CEO's success at doubling profits and sales in just three years, tried to reassert his control over the business, the CEO resigned.


Family Business Leadership and Values Shaped Atlantas Future

Back in the 1950s, Birmingham, AL and Atlanta, GA were in a tight race to emerge as the premier metropolis of the southeastern United States. While one might question the importance of being the biggest city in a socially and economically backward region that was still mired in an American apartheid, some could see the future.


Rigas: Latest Addition to Family Business Hall of Shame

In 1952, John Rigas, 76, founded what has become Adelphia Communications, the nation’s sixth largest cable television company. His three sons became top ranking executives at the firm.


Whose Fault is Failure?

My brother-in-law has led our third generation family business into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. When confronted by family member minority shareholders about his failure, he simply shrugged and said, "I did the best I could." Is there any action that we can take against him to recover our value?


EBSCO: Building a Family Conglomerate on Values and Capital

EBSCO, a family business conglomerate headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, but with offices also located in Canada, Brazil, Australia, Germany, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Taiwan and England, to name a few places, constantly changes and grows due to the basic philosophies and principles passed down from generation to generation by the company's owners, the Stephens family.


Values Add Value

Values that families bring to the businesses they own is a frequent topic in The Family Business Advisor. We believe that the familys values and culture,inculcated in the business by executives steeped in their familys ethos, can be a tremendous competitive advantage.


Effects of the Current U.S. Regulatory Environment on Family Business

Author: Otis Baskin Source: The Family Business Advisor


Franchising and Family Businesses: How Everyone Can Win

When family business and franchise are mentioned in the same sentence, most people think of the family as the franchise owner.


Family Communism/Business Capitalism

We recently got to know a century-old multi billion-dollar European private family firm with operations in several industries throughout the world. With family members participating in the business from the 5th, 6th, and 7th generations, the family has developed and articulated some very strong principles to which they attribute their success.


The New Capitalism and Family Enterprise

On July 19, 2007, the Financial Times published a comprehensive full-page analysis of trends in global financial markets, authored by regular contributor Martin Wolf.


Secrecy--A Family Business Vice?

Disclosure and transparency are not widely promoted by family businesses. Imagine more public sharing of information about family business revenues, profits, capital structure and the like.


The Transformation of a Tradition

We’ve often discussed here the two-edged sword of “tradition.” It is both a special strength and an Achilles heel of a family business.


Family Business Fosters Long-Term Innovation

Once again, apparently without realizing it, the academic Wall Street establishment has figured out that family businesses are best.


Innovation in Family Business

Certain characteristics of family firms can work against business innovation. They include: Limited exposure to innovative ideas from other industries, particularly in families where business leaders have not worked anywhere else Lack of willingness to adopt outside ideas due to a feeling that family members, who may have been in the business for decades, know more than anyone else about what it takes to succeed Limited desire to take risk because all of the family’s eggs are in one basket


Key Non-Family Executive Role: The Value of Mr. or Ms. Fix-It

Many family businesses have a “special, most senior” non-family executive, who we call a Mr. or Ms. “Fix-It” -- because that's the role he or she most often plays. One family business owner described the role as “taking care of things.” “Fix-Its” have excellent political skills. They have all the skills of leadership... except the desire to lead.


Developing the Sibling Partnership

Successful transition to sibling generation leadership requires preparation and effort by all stakeholders of the family business.


What Determines the Level of Entrepreneurship in Family Firms?

There are competing arguments about whether family firms are more or less entrepreneurial than their nonfamily peers. Family firms are thought to be more entrepreneurial because they...


Honoring Both Family and Business Considerations in Compensation Approaches

One of the most challenging policy areas for families in business together is compensation. As with many issues, approaches tend to be divided into two camps. Opinions and emotions can run quite high on both sides.


Should Compensation Be Equal ?

Im wondering about the advice Im getting from my Board. We are going through a transition from me to the next generation. I am now almost retired and my two sons have taken over management. The oldest is president and the younger is doing a great job as vice president of operations and also as general manager of our new product line.


Optimizing Ownership: Values, Vision, Goals

Just what do good owners do? While owners have certain legal rights and powers, what often distinguishes outstanding owners is their willingness to limit their own rights and do what s right, long-run, for others other shareholders, the business itself as an institution, the family, employees and the community surrounding the business.


Voice and Exit in the Family Firm

Balancing and managing voice and exit is one of the most critical issues for families in business. It is perhaps the central concern of Stage III family firms – those owned by several cousins. Economists and political theorists have long studied voice and exit


When Do We Give the Kids the Money?

If you are fortunate enough to be the owner of a cash-producing business and the parent of children, you will need to make some critical estate planning decisions about when to begin transferring wealth to the next generation.


It's Not Just Economics

I’m always uncomfortable when a family business discussion changes focus and becomes about wealth – or worse, about maximizing (or realizing) economic value. Not that I have anything against wealth or against maximizing economic value.


Business Wisdom for the Family

Author: Chris Eckrich Source: FBA


Ten Myths About Outside Boards

The best thing we ever did was put independent, outside directors on our board. I sure wish I'd done it sooner. It would have saved us a lot of grief and a lot of money.


Family Business Boards: Demystifying the Process

Longtime readers of The Family Business Advisor® know how often we point to an independent board of directors as a critical ingredient to long-term success in a family business.


How to Transition from a Family-Run to a Family-Owned Business

Can a family business prosper without a family member at the helm? Can a family business remain a family business and retain its owning family's values


How Effective Is Your Board?

How to evaluate a board of directors’ effectiveness? Business Week’s November 25, 1996 issue’s “report card on corporate governance” provides some answers to that question.


Mastering Family Business Polarities: Learning to Manage Dilemmas That Cant Be Solved

Inevitably, every family business faces heart-wrenching, impossible choices. Some common examples are choosing between the needs of the business and the needs of the family, choosing between shareholder liquidity and shareholder investment and choosing between a focus on profitability and a focus on legacy.


How to Manage Chronic Conflict in Your Family Enterprise

Have you ever had a relationship with someone where, time after time, the interactions you had with him or her left you frustrated or angry, where there was just chronic conflict? Unfortunately, many people have had this experience. And in a family enterprise situation, where there is ample opportunity for these exchanges to occur, the results of chronic conflict produce tensions that have consequences beyond the simple communication between two people.


The Importance of Investing in "Good Feelings"

By Michael L. Fassler Some people assume family business is inevitably an arrangement that is bad for both the family and the business. Family owned businesses do face the complexity of competing demands regarding family, business and ownership matters because both emotional and financial capital are at risk. Yet, if these dynamics are managed in a way that lead to good feelings among family members, the result can be family relationships that provide a deep level of satisfaction for the...


Promoting Successful Ownership Transition

By Amy Schuman Successful ownership transitions require strong, knowledgeable shareholders. A cohesive, well-informed shareholder group is a tremendous competitive advantage for a family business. How can you best communicate, educate and involve next generation shareholders in their family business? How can you create enthusiasm among family members—all very busy with their own lives—for a business that may not be very attractive to them, for a whole host of reasons? 04/01/2006


Family Business Survival: Understanding the Statistics

Perhaps the most quoted statistic in the world of family business is this one: 30% of family businesses make it to the second generation, 10-15% make it to the third and 3-5% make it to the fourth generation. Published July 1999


Bridging the Gap: Ruiz Food Products

A father isn't always the best person to teach business management skills to his successor. Fred Ruiz, 49, learned that lesson when he struggled with his father over differing leadership philosophies of Ruiz Food Products Inc., the frozen Mexican food company.

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