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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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Beating the Odds: Four Building Blocks to Create Change

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

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3 Keys to Inspire Change

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

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

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How and When to Turn Over or Sell the Reins

Today, let’s talk about how you set the stage for a graceful and timely exit.  Depending upon your disposition of the business – sale, family transfer, outside management - some of the steps listed below may take anywhere from a few years to a couple of decades to implement effectively.  So, the sooner you begin this process, the sooner you will be able to begin climbing other mountains. 

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Are You Falling Victim to the "Can't Leave" Syndrome?

In August of 1972, the celebrated childrens’ author Dr. Seuss addressed the issue of succession planning.  His chief character in the book, “Marvin K. Mooney – Will You Please Go Now!” just couldn’t bring himself to get out of the way and let someone else take center stage.  Almost two years later, in July of 1974, Dr. Seuss changed his main character’s name to Richard M. Nixon and sent his revised book to columnist Art Buchwald.  Buchwald received permission to publish the revised lyrics; and nine days later, on August 8, Richard M. Nixon went.

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Goals: Turn Them Into Reality

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

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

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Recipe for Success

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

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Are You Caught In The Right "Wonderloop" for Driving Business Growth for Your Business?

More than a few years ago, several of us would record music segments and splice them together to create what we called a “wonderloop.” Sometimes the only wonder was why we did it in the first place.

After getting involved in the business world, I discovered that the wonderloop concept was transferable. In business, it wasn’t music or sounds that I wanted playing over and over. It was product or service performance.

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4 Steps for Improving Decision Making and Business Performance

Recently, a CEO friend was ranting about the poor judgment shown by her senior management team. “What I need around here,” she said, “are some good problem solvers and decision makers.” She used several more minutes to vent; and then she asked for my thoughts.

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