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Orlando Succession Planning

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Orlando, Florida - Headquarters

       1700 W. Colonial Drive
       Orlando, FL 32804
       407.578.4455 (T)
       407.578.4480 (F)

       Complete Company Directory

 

 

 Orlando City Scape, by Sky Noir

   

Loyd Rawls, CEO

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Loyd H. Rawls is one of the nation’s leading succession planners. Since 1973, Mr. Rawls and his associates have provided business succession services for the owners and key executives of closely-held, capital intensive family businesses throughout the country.

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Daniel Thill, COO, CFP®

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Dan specializes in asset management programs, investment analysis, investment planning and non-qualified deferred compensation plans.

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David Ciambella, CFP®

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David specializes in addressing and solving complex problems and issues that arise as a result of comprehensively addressing business succession.

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Russell Phillips, M.A., M.B.A

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Associated with The Rawls Group since 1995, Russell Phillips’ primary focus is working with business owners, key managers and family members on the varying relational issues that impact the business legacy and their pivotal relationships.

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Champ Rawls, CLU®

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Being a part of his own family’s business, Champ has a unique insight into the difficulties, challenges, and triumphs that our clients face when combining family and business.

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Dan Iosue, CFP®

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As a succession planner, Dan Iosue, CFP® leverages his more than decade of experience in corporate leadership and financial planning working with clients to help them achieve their long-term business goals.

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Family and Business - Have You Been A Cheater?

Recently a friend shared a book with me titled Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley. Choosing to Cheat is a quick read, but it is very intriguing and prompted me to do a little introspection. The author begins the book by stating that everyone cheats. Now before you wonder why a succession planner is talking to you about cheating, please let me explain. This is a book about what can happen when family and business collide.

Cheating in the context of this book refers to giving up one thing in favor of another. Each day we make choices with regard to how we spend our time at home with family and in business. When we choose to spend the majority of our time at work or building a business, many times family suffers. Several of my clients and countless prospects over the years have channeled a tremendous amount of time, energy and money pursuing business endeavors which has resulted in not only business success and amassing impressive personal wealth but also failed marriages and fractured relationships with their children. An overwhelming majority that have achieved what they define as the pinnacle of their business career want nothing more than to turn back time and recapture what they no longer have: a successful marriage or a meaningful relationship with their children.  

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Why Employee Contracts Are So Important to the Succession Planning Process

Business Structuring is a critical factor of the interdependent Succession Matrix®. Business Structuring impacts the nine other factors of the Succession Matrix® and accordingly, those other nine factors positively or negatively impact Business Structuring. For more information on all ten factors, refer to the International Succession Planning Association website at www.ISPAssociation.org.  

Business Structuring actually consists of two sub-factors, Business Organization and Business Documentation. Business Organization refers to the actual structure of the business as a corporation, LLC, partnership, etc. and its alignment to the strategic goals the business has for the continuation of success through the next generation of owners and managers. Business Documentation, as the name implies, refers to the actual documentation that formalizes the business organization as well as agreements regarding the disposition of ownership, leases of equipment and real estate, and contracts with vendors (franchisers, distributors, lenders) and employees. With respect to employment contracts, I am often asked what role an employment contract has in business succession planning. In light of the volume of curiosity, let’s embrace this subject.

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Don't Overlook the Employment Contract - How It Can Impact Your Exit Strategy, Cash Flow and Protection from the IRS

As a dedicated business succession planner, I am often bringing up the subject of employment contracts. The predictable initial response is “I hate contracts and what role could an employment contract have in my business succession planning?” This question generally comes from someone who has 80% of his/her net worth tied up directly or indirectly in their business and does not have a prayer of retiring without concerns about their financial security. They are plagued with the concerns of “Where am I going to get income?” and “How will I replace my current benefit package?”  Fortunately, the employment contract can be a very valuable tool in relieving these concerns and facilitating business succession planning.

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Don't Overlook the Employment Contract - How It Can Lock In Your Competitive Edge

In addition to employment contracts being beneficial for business owners, they also can play a very important succession role with key managers. Business owners commonly have concerns that key managers, critical to the continuation of the business’ success, could be recruited away by a competitor. There is also concern that the key managers could become frustrated with their perception of the succession plan and jump ship after the owner’s retirement rather than give the successors a chance to earn respect.  And the nightmare of nightmares is that with access to customer lists, processes and technology, a key manager could hook up with a competitor and inflict devastating damage on the business. These concerns about the commitment of key managers commonly impede exit strategy, successor identification and preparation, the transfer of management responsibility and the transfer of stock.

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Living in Dad's Shadow

“My father is so good at everything he does.  Everything he touches seems to turn into gold.  He is revered by his employees and respected in the community. I am not sure I will ever be as good as my father!” These were recent sentiments shared with me by the child of a successful business owner. Have you ever wondered what it would be like being a son or daughter in a successful family-owned business? On one hand, the perception is that it is such a blessing since business success affords the opportunity to enjoy some of the finer things in life. On the other hand, being the son or daughter in a family business can be quite challenging because the microscope is always upon you and at times it appears surpassing Dad’s or Mom’s accomplishments is insurmountable.

During my travels and interactions with business owners and their children, I frequently encounter adult children who feel as though they are living in their parents’ shadows. Generally, a person who has built a highly successful family business is extremely driven, hard working and all consumed by his or her work. Often the children of these driven business owners are raised in privileged environments and find it very difficult to create their own identity. Other times the children harbor resentment because their mother or father spent more time with their first born child, the business, than they did with their real children during their childhood years. The fact is that it can be very difficult to be the child of a successful business owner.

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Family Business Harmony – DNA Doesn’t Always Cut It

As a family business succession planner I am commonly asked

  • How do I help families find harmony? - And then more specifically;
  • How do I convert skeptical, envious, petty, self serving, back-biters into unified families? And;
  • How do I help them find agreement on goals and processes that will help achieve a mutually agreeable mission?

My response is that I don’t deserve too much credit because family harmony issues on their lightest days are far bigger than this little guy. What I can really take credit for is being a diehard optimist about the potential of family and not knowing when to give up. As you would expect, like most conundrums, there are multiple answers to questions about family harmony. I’ll take a shot at shedding some light on how some families find harmony and others just remain in a quagmire of resentment, angst and anxiety.

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Family Business Harmony - It's Not An Inalienable Right

To continue my thoughts on how to find family harmony, I think the second thing we all need to remember about  family unity is that none of us have a right or entitlement to a loving, supportive, unified family. Family love and support is not an inalienable right. I contend that outstanding family business relationships, just like outstanding businesses, are achieved as the byproduct of a mystical commodity known as hard work. Those who want to achieve family and business success work beyond the pain to achieve the gain. And if you have not had a dose of reality lately, just trust me when I tell you that wherever there are relationships, there will be pain.

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Remembering to Forget - The Secret to Building Family Business Harmony

My final thought on why some families are more effective at achieving harmony and unity is that successful families dwell more in the present than in the past. As even the presumed role model families will admit, it is not always hunky dory on the family front. The fundamental family motivation is “the good of the present outweighs the bad of the past”. My encouragement and advice to clients seeking family harmony and unity is to “remember to forget.” You have choices. First, do I want this/these relationship(s); do I want to have family in more than name only? If yes, you have to remember to forget the pain of the past as it can and will totally pollute the relationship prospects of the future. Being practical, I am not talking about forgetting that your brother-in-law is a convicted bank robber or that your son is a struggling drug addict. I am talking about the personal stereotyping and resentment that if allowed to taint every personal interaction will build and sustain insurmountable boulders in the pathway to strong interdependent families.

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How to Deal With Entitled Family Member Employees

As a family business succession planner I am intrigued with the ten interdependent factors of the Succession Matrix℠: Owner Motivation and Perspective; Successor Identification and Development; Key Manager Motivation and Retention; Strategic Planning; Business Structuring; Management Synergy and Teamwork; Business Performance; Financial Planning; Family Harmony and Family Governance. According to the International Succession Planning Association® (ISPA®), each of these factors independently and interdependently impacts the successful continuation of a closely held family business through the next generation of owners and managers. Each of these factors can be an asset or a liability to the achievement of business succession planning goals.

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Entitled Family Member Employees - Who is to Blame?

So how is it that entitled brats can make their way into otherwise healthy family businesses devouring efficiency, productivity and teamwork? What is it that blinds a hard working, highly experienced, bright business owner to the ridiculous, sophomoric behavior of their children or in-laws who have become profound impediments to the successful continuation of the business through the next generation of owners and managers? Apparently, there are no black and white answers to these questions. Otherwise, I would not be witnessing this pandemic of family business chaos. Otherwise, there would be active dialogue and “How To” books on this subject from family therapist colleagues. Otherwise, I would be encountering “conscious incompetent” business owners who would be saying “We know what we are doing wrong, we know how to fix it, but we just cannot make it happen”.  To the contrary, what I am seeing are “unconscious incompetent” business owners who are excited to have their kids in their business and just don’t have a clue that their business is on the road to crisis, decline, and a significantly reduced probability of “Succession Success”.

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Entitlement - How to Eliminate the Threat to Business Success

What is going on with the boss’ kids? Will the boss fire me if I tell him the truth? How much can I take before I blow and get fired?  Those are common questions asked by the unfortunate employees who are stuck dealing with family business terrorists: enabled kids who think and act by different standards than everyone else who has had to earn their way in the business. The damage associated with enabled family member employees is brutal, and almost always substantially reduces the probability of successful succession. Enablement blocks successor preparation. As we all encounter, experience, and recognize the high price of family member entitlement, the question is: how can this cultural disease be prevented or cured?

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Exit Strategy and the Joe-Pa Syndrome

There is a lot at stake in succession planning: family legacies, business value, financial security, and family harmony.  The goal of succession planning is to create a seamless transition of ownership, leadership and management while avoiding the classic “new leader” shock and awe that diverts mission focus, erodes management enthusiasm and dissipates organizational momentum.  

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Successor Development Challenges - Don't Alienate Key Management

Some clients appreciate what I offer more than others. In many cases this occurs when a very social child follows a task master parent into the CEO position of a business without appropriate experience, effective accountability, mentoring or coaching.

In the absence of working for another business, successors lack the understanding or empathy of an employee. If a successor has never been a common law employee, it is very difficult for them to effectively lead or manage employees. Furthermore, if a successor is never provided employment performance guidelines and held accountable to those metrics, it is very difficult for them to manage and lead those who are aspiring to make their mark on the business world, gain status and gain security.

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Effective Successor Leadership - Being a Leader Means You Can't Always Be Liked

Let’s continue with my letter to the “Successor,” reflecting my frustrations with his recent performance. We pick up where my straight talk begins to focus on “Successor’s” effort to buy affection and respect...

I hope you found our recent Board meeting worthwhile. As I expressed leaving the meeting, I regret the need for my grinding in regard to you establishing and communicating reasonable performance expectations and formal protocols for expenses, 401k match, profit sharing, pets and hiring family members. All these things continue to support my concern about your compulsion to be known as a good-guy and a propensity to attempt to buy respect and favor from family and employees.

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Warning! Why you should Set Performance and Expectation Standards for Family Member Employees

Now, for the conclusion of my letter to Successor. My straight talk concludes with a focus on his “good guy” leadership style, especially in regards to family members working in the business...

On the subject of a culture of tolerance versus teamwork, I am concerned about your “good guy” compulsion to expand the list of family member employees who are effectively, non fire-able employees. You may argue that you could fire anyone, but understand the definition of a non fire-able employee: someone, including but not limited to a family member employee, who will not be held accountable to the point of termination barring significant brain damage that impairs the attitude of the leader, harmony of employees, harmony of the family and/or a combination thereof.

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Effective Leadership - Hub and Spoke Eventually Chokes

Last year while reading the Orlando Business Journal I came across a one liner that read, “the sign of a good leader is when the business runs as smoothly when the leader is in the business as when he or she is out of the business.” As a succession planning professional dedicated to impacting lives and perpetuating family business legacies, this quote resonated with me. While it occurred to me that the title of this article sounds like a quote from Johnny Cochran, the hub and spoke approach to management and leadership impedes the business’ ability to operate smoothly when the business owner (the hub) is away from the business. And from a succession planning perspective, this can be devastating!

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Family and Business - Maintaining a Healthy Balance

When I think of the word balance, one of the images that come to mind is a gymnast carefully and bravely performing on the balance beam. As a sports enthusiast and competitive person, occasionally when I am channel surfing (which my wife loves), I come across a gymnastics competition and find myself captivated by the athletes and their level of focus, commitment and talent. Although I have never been a gymnast, it is apparent that becoming a successful gymnast and performing well on the balance beam requires an incredible amount of mental and physical preparation. Naturally, it also requires the athlete to have great balance. Like gymnastics, owning and working in a family business requires a tremendous amount of dedication and effort in order to achieve a healthy balance between family and business.

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Increasing Organizational Productivity - What Could Be Impacting Teamwork in Your Organization

Organizational productivity is dependent upon teamwork, which I describe as two or more people working together productively for a common goal. Team can be expressed or implied, conscious or unconscious but irrespective, organizational productivity depends upon the effectiveness of interdependent, collaborative effort. Teamwork can be fair, good or great, but teamwork cannot be bad because the contingency of teamwork is enhanced productivity. The English language does not give us a word that that describes the negative side of group collaboration which we generally associate with uncooperativeness, inter-organizational competition, backbiting and under productivity.

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4 Steps for Building Family Business Synergy - Changing "Dreawork" into Teamwork, Part 1

Trust is the single most critical component of teamwork. In the absence of trust in owners, leaders and colleagues, members of the “dream” (versus team) are looking over their shoulder and subsequently handicapped in their ability to focus on their assigned task.  Building trust is the first answer to how we convert a “dream” into a team that optimizes productivity and creates the Success Margin®. 

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4 Steps for Building Family Business Synergy - Changing "Dreamwork" into Teamwork, Part 2

Trust is the single most critical component of teamwork. Unfortunately, some people are just untrusting and believe in survival of the fastest and the fittest. Employment is just another opportunity to compete, win and validate their belief that they are capable of looking out for number one. Untrusting people expect others to disappoint and their fatalistic attitude generally creates a self fulfilling prophecy to the failure of a team. All forms of personal interaction have one purpose for the untrusting, improve their own circumstances.  They may be referred to as part of a group but the untrusting think individually and functionally, are team members in name only. 

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