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Why Do You Have to Market Business Succession to the Family?

How much cash does your business invest in marketing?  No, not marketing to your customer base.  I mean how much do you spend on marketing to your employees and to your family. If your answer is anywhere from “Where did you buy that tobacco?”  to “Nothing.”, then you need not be surprised if your employees and your family members are somewhat less than engaged in your succession dream.

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Can You Be Too Optimistic for Your Own Good?

What do you think?  Can you be so optimistic that you are completely out of touch with reality?  Can you believe so strongly in your own dreams and ambitions for yourself, your family, and your business that you just do not “get it”?

Just a few days ago, I discovered that one of Frank Sinatra’s trademark songs from a few decades ago is now a ringtone for cell phones.  Written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, “High Hopes” is all about the need to believe you can overcome great odds against success. 

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How to Inspire Your Family With Your Succession Planning Goals

A classmate named “Howie” had a signature response to almost every exhortation that was meant to move him from one course of actions to another.  No matter how gifted the speaker or the written communication, Howie could be counted on to raise a simple question:  “And I should care because . . . ?”

We often believe that the power of what we say and/or do has the immediate impact of creating a compelling interest to do, buy, or follow.  When it does not, we generally think that others “just don’t get it.”  That is probably true.  But why do they “not get it”?

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Keys to Effective Leadership for a Family In Business

Family in business can be a significant advantage or a reciprocally significant disadvantage. The absence of respect and/or trust between the members, regardless of a common gene pool, confirms just a struggling Blood Related Business Group not a family. The struggles are known to all group dynamics as in rivalry, resentment, pay-back and other bizarre behaviors and attitudes that attempt to provide protection from perceived flesh eaters. Love is no antidote to the ills of this environment and predictably amplifies the frustration and anxiety associated with the disrespect and distrust from loved ones. In the absence of love, the rational members of the BRBG generally stop taking the abuse and move on to a more tolerable and reasonable environment. Whereas respect and trust provide inherent productivity advantages, distrust and disrespect provide an equally if not greater disadvantage.

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I've Sold My Business, Aren't I Done With Succession Planning?

Recently I was invited to speak to a group of successful business owners about the various aspects of succession planning (what I refer to as the Succession Matrix). The Succession Matrix consists of ten interdependent factors that business owners must successfully address to improve the odds that their business will successfully make the transition to and through the next generation of owners and managers. Addressing these factors is important regardless of whether you plan to sell your business or plan to keep it in the family. Often times these critical factors are ignored and unfortunately result in the business becoming another casualty.

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Effective Leadership - You Set the Tone

A few days ago I came across the following piece titled IT'S UP TO ME by Haim Ginott

“I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.”

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Is Your Success Left Up to Chance?

In the movie Lawrence of Arabia, Captain T. E. Lawrence has to shoot someone he had once saved.  One of his Arabian allies slaps him on the back and says “It was written.”  Lawrence promptly responds with “Nothing is written. “  Both men had a strong conviction.  One believed in destiny, the other in choice.

Belief systems powerfully shape your culture, impacting your business strategies:  how products and services are manufactured, designed, marketed, and delivered.  How successfully you implement these strategies will determine business performance.  And, how successfully your business performs may decide whether your enterprise is a golden goose or a dead duck.

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Successor Development - How Good is Good Enough?

I was recently in a meeting with a son of a business owner, who was the identified 3rd generation successor leader to his family’s business. We were talking about some communication challenges he was having with his dad. His dad is a larger than life kind of guy, one whose shoes are hard to fill.  So, I asked, “What seems to be causing the difficulties?”

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Is Your Family a Liability to Business Value?

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

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

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Dream for Success - How to Turn Your Dreams Into Successes

In my last post, I told you that I have a unique advantage of working with the leaders of America. I also have the unique opportunity of working with their successors. One of the hardest things to do in this environment is convey the years of experience and the intuitive business sense of a current leader to the next generation.  So, I try to learn from these leaders to determine what it is that they have that can help the younger generation bridge the gap of inexperience. The first essential for success that I shared in the first post is that they take personal responsibility.

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Personal Responsiblitily - How Successful People Leverage This Characteristic

Conveying the seemingly intuitive business sense that comes from years of experience is a leadership trait that cannot be had by any other method than experience.  Closely related to the gaining of experience is that business leaders have learned to take initiative.  Without initiative they would not have learned some tough lessons along the way that, in essence, is what experience is all about.

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Are Your Bases Covered? - There are Loved Ones Dependent Upon You

Although many of us feel we are in control of every aspect in our lives, the first week of November rudely reminded us how fragile life truly is. The unexpected massacre in Fort Hood, Texas changed the lives of countless families and friends, especially those who lost loved ones. Imagine for a moment you went to work today and due to some unexpected tragedy such as the deadly shooting at Fort Hood, did not make it home? How would that financially and emotionally impact your spouse or significant other? How about your children? What about your business? Be truthful. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, how well have you prepared for the unexpected?

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Financial Affairs - Eliminate Surprise For Your Loved Ones

Thirteen years ago, a new client who lost his wife prematurely came to me with a large box full of papers that included several pieces of financial information including a dozen or so old life insurance policies. He had no idea if the life insurance policies were in force or not. Needless to say, investigating the content in this large box was quite time consuming. During one of the lowest points in his life, losing his wife of thirty years, this gentleman and his children were tasked with pulling the pieces of their financial puzzle together.

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8 Tips for Growing Your Capital Assets: Time, People, and Money

Businesses have three primary resources or forms of Capital:   Human Capital (people relationships); Temporal Capital (time management); and Financial Capital (liquid/illiquid assets).  Each of these is interconnected adds or detracts from the value of a business.

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Stumped By Succession Issues - The Succession Matrix Will Help You Find Your Way Out

Two weeks ago I received a phone call from a business reporter who writes mostly for and about one specific industry.  The reporter reads the blogs that my partners and I write, which are about succession planning; and he/she wanted to talk with one or more of us for background information on a story being written about succession planning for families in the industry.

After the usual exchange of pleasantries, we got to the article.  The first question was really quite typical:  How much succession planning experience do you have in this industry (i.e., how many industry clients)?  In a way, this is simply a variation on the wicked queen’s “Mirror, mirror on the wall” question from the Snow White fairy tale.

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How to Create Opportunity from Disruption

In 1970, Alvin Toffler introduced the term “information overload” in a book called Future Shock.  Forty years ago, Toffler wrote about the impact of the accelerating rate of technological and societal change.  In a nutshell, he predicted that we humans would be left disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation”.   

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Make Sure What You Have Is What You Need - The Importance of Reviewing Your Planning

You may have heard the saying “the only thing that remains the same is change,” and that is especially true when it comes to planning for the future of your business.  My partners and I are constantly reminding clients that change will be a constant in their succession planning environment especially as it relates to their feelings, finances, family and federal tax laws. As these changes occur, reviewing and updating various aspects of your planning is imperative. While at times this can appear to be inconvenient, it will ensure you maintain proper alignment and ultimately increase the probability your succession plan will succeed.

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What is the True Meaning of Survival?

How do you define succession? It’s a mouthful – so be prepared. The definition is “The formal definition is the continuation of success through the next generation of owners and managers through proactive reconciliation of predictable, probable and possible contingencies.” Yes, that is an intense definition, so let’s not dwell on the formal definition any more. So what’s the practical definition of succession? SURVIVAL!

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Success - It is a Shared Thing

As a survivor who has passed the foremost trial of succession, it’s a good time to make an assessment of the things you have done right.  There is no future dwelling on the negative. On the bright side, your survival affirms my theory that as a survivor, there is nothing you do wrong that cannot be many fold reconciled by the things you do right. As expressed earlier, success is not always defined in terms of those thin disguises purchased with prior profits. How many examples have you seen of people with mansions, yachts and jets going bankrupt? Success, which comes from the things you are doing right, is a NOW thing. 

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Does Survival Mean Success?

Hopefully you buy the Right Reconciliation Theory: assuming you have survived, there is nothing you do wrong that cannot many fold be reconciled by the things you do right. I know there are many ways of taking exception to this theory but from a succession planning perspective, it works. There are ten diverse components to the Succession Matrix that give plenty of opportunity to do things right and wrong. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses which from a realistic perspective means that on the norm, we are doing some things right and some things wrong. As an example we could be knocking the market dead with profitability while being totally insensitive to the development of a successor. Or reciprocally we could be so involved in the development of our successor that organizational productivity falls through the basement.

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