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EFB-KPMG 2020 Global Tax Monitor

Thursday, 03 December 2020

In this challenging year, KPMG have explored the situation of taxation on family businesses in 54 countries and territories in order to offer an


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Family Business Management Programme 2020

Wednesday, 04 March 2020

The Family Business National Centre of Excellence is inviting business founders, next generation managers and those with an interest in learning how


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Growing a family business - LEO Enterprise Week BOI Workbench Centre Fri 6th March 8am

Wednesday, 04 March 2020

Phil Cone of Acadeny Crests Ltd and Michael Finn NSG Ltd will be interviewed by JJ O'Connell of Family Business Ireland to discuss their growth


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Young farmers often live under parental microscope
Thursday, 19 May 2016 08:47

Below is a short read on a Bob Tosh, a farm management consultant's background and some useful advice for not just farmers but for any family business out there.  

We hope you find it of interest...




I probably stopped paying much attention to my father's opinion when I reached 18.


Of course, I take a lot more notice of it now as I've become older and realize the value of his life experience.


However, back then I had left home, either working on a farm or attending agriculture college, and our worlds didn't come that close together. I went on to serve in the army, attend university, get married and have a family. I made my own decisions, made my own mistakes and moved away from the close proximity of my parents.


As an adult, I can't ever imagine having to ask my parents for money, have them scrutinize what I spent it on or ask permission to go on vacation or get a loan for a new vehicle. I also can't ever imagine my wife having to live and rear our children under the constant gaze of her mother-in-law.


And yet this is the reality for so many young farm families who stay on the farm to take over the business.


Cash is often tight, and it makes sense to build on the same yard as Mom and Dad or have Mom and Dad move off the yard to accommodate the next generation. Frequently, there is only one bank account, which is operated jointly.


And then there may be other things to consider, such as attitudes toward child rearing, money, alcohol, work and education, which may differ between generations and between families. How many times do I hear things like "they can't manage money" or "my son doesn't work as hard as I did?"


And yet the reality for most of the world is that the kids leave the nest so that they don't have to endure the constant judgment of their parents. True, they might still be exposed to an opinion or two, but they aren't living and breathing it on a daily basis.


I blame the "honeymoon period," which are the early days when everyone is getting along and decisions are made in the glow of family harmony. However, this only sets up families for failure later on.


There are three circles of the family business — family, ownership and management — and it's important to know in which circle decisions are being made. As well, no matter which circle you are making a decision in, remember that formality will always be your friend.



So before you build that new house on the yard, here are a few things to consider:

1. Set boundaries around the overlap between family and business.

2. Understand that everyone needs their own space.

3. Keep in mind that the children are also adults who need financial autonomy.

4. Recognize that your children won't simply accept that they are a source of cheap labour. They will want to manage the business sooner than you might want to let go of the management.

5. Accept that your new daughter-in law-might not react well to your input on child rearing or whether she should work off the farm.




Elaine Froese wrote an excellent book on the topic, called Farming's In-Law Factor. I would urge you all to read it, but do so before you've built that house next door.


Begin by reading the sections that apply to others and only later focus on the section that applies to you. This will perhaps help you understand other perspectives before simply looking to reinforce your own.


There will need to be compromise from all sides and an ability to communicate so that a difference of opinion doesn't become a personal insult. Don't set yourself up for failure. Put some rules in place before the first foundations are dug.







Source: Bob Tosh, a farm management consultant in MNP's Farm Management Consulting group in Saskatoon


The 4 Step Succession Plan
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 15:06

A family business is either at its weakest during succession, if the new owners are not fully equipped or untested, or on the brink of a brilliant new era. One thing is certain, the business cannot stay the same, even in the hands of blood relatives, and that's why it's important to plan the succession process to its best advantage.


Most family firm owners trust their own flesh and blood more than an outsider to take the reins when they have to step down, but that trust can still be a little unstable.


They want to know that when their business is handed over, the new management will govern their evolving legacy to even greater heights – not leave the business stagnant or worse, diminished.


Plan for Succession Success

If you fail to plan, then you plan for your business to fail in succession.



1. Evaluate Realistic Goals

Before you can accurately discern what you are expecting of a successor, you need to first draw up a clear idea of what you and your fellow owners expect from the business going forward. Are there specific goals and objectives you'd like achieved? Write them down and agree on them.


These can include business performance goals, as well as what the retiring family members expect the business to afford them after stepping down.



2. Document the Succession Plan in its Entirety

Identify every successor, from owners to managers of the business, and write down their exact roles and responsibilities. The succession plan must also serve as a clear timeline for how long succession will take for each role and how succession will be achieved.


When it is documented properly then there will be less minor disputes escalating into major ones and every family member can be clear on their path going forward – including what they need to do to fit into their new roles, in the case of the younger generation.



3. Clearly State a Governance Process

With different generations of the family now having a vested interest in the running of the business – and the older generation having the experience, but now the younger generation having the status – it becomes more important than ever to set out clear governance procedures.


Document everything from how certain disputes will be handled, to the succession plan itself with details of every family member's role going forward and make sure that every family member and stakeholder is on the same page.


It's important for the successor to know when they will have the support of key family members in business affairs, and what kind of support they can expect.



4. Detail the financial Implications of the Succession

Draw up an agreement for the sale of the business that is fair for all parties. It should reflect the worth of the business while also minimising the tax incurred from the transaction.


There are also different ways that the business can be legally handed over to the next generation, including the successors purchasing the business, or it being treated as a gift from the present owner to the new one. All this should be worked out as early on in the succession planning as possible so that all parties know what is to be expected in the eventual handing over of the reins.


The succession plan should state a clear plan for the transfer of stocks between family members in the hand over. If spouses of those involved in the company are stakeholders then it should also be stated here what say they will earn in the running of the business.


Make sure that your legacy only grows with the next generation of the business by ensuring that nothing is left unaccounted for in succession – this way both the present generation and the future generation can work together towards the same goals.






Need further Advice? Contact us now at Tel: 021 4320466 / Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  


Family-owned firms 'better equipped to survive downturns'
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 09:06
Long-lived family-owned businesses are more resilient, on average, than rivals and that is in part because they have a longer term orientation and are better able to retain the lessons of past crises.
Family-owned businesses are the "social and economic backbone of all communities across the world", including Ireland, according to Dr Justin Craig, inset, Professor of Family Enterprises and Co-Director of the Family Enterprises Centre in the Kellogg School of Management, at Northwestern University, in the US.
He is among the key note speakers at this morning's launch of a report by Fingal Co Council and Dublin City University's Centre for Family Business entitled 'Lessons in Resilience and Success: A Snapshot of Multigenerational Family Businesses'.
The report has examined 12 Fingal-based multi-generational, family-owned businesses - including well known food producers Keelings, Wrights of Howth and Country Crest. It sets out their unique position in the marketplace and makes practical recommendations for their sustained growth.
Click here to read more: 
7 Reasons Why You Should Make An Enduring Power of Attorney
Tuesday, 17 May 2016 14:54

Thanks again to Neil J. Butler & Co for passing on this useful piece on a having a power of Attourney. We feel that this need to be circulated constantly as it is so important in any turn of events.


An Enduring Power of Attorney is a document in which you appoint who should look after your personal and your financial affairs in the event that you are unlucky enough, through accident or illness, to lose your mental capacity.It is only ever intended to become effective IF you lose your mental capacity at some future point in time



1. You decide who is to look after your personal needs, if required



2. You can also have your assets or business affairs taken care of in a structured way



3. You give yourself peace of mind , knowing these arrangements are in place



4. You can ensure there is no undue financial strain imposed on family due to your illness or disability



5. While a Will covers things after death , this document governs the period from mental disability to death



6. It does not activate until something profound happens to you



7. You can change it or revoke it at any time up to it’s activation, if you wish







'The real value is in implementing your plan - although that's easier said than done'
Tuesday, 17 May 2016 14:29

THE PROCESS OF developing a strategy for your company doesn't end with a beautifully crafted business plan that sits on your office shelf and is dusted off from time to time.

The real value is in implementing it, although unfortunately that is easier said than done. To be truly effective, the plan must become a part of the daily, weekly and monthly routines that drive the sales and marketing initiatives, production efficiency, human resource practices and so on in your business.

Here are 4 steps that can help with this process:



1. Summarise the plan on a single page

Your plan needs to be converted into something that is easy to have on hand, simple to reference and can be communicated effortlessly. An 80-odd page document is not easily referenced, it needs to be a single page that highlights the main areas of focus in the plan.


If that's the best approach. then why do successful companies go to the effort of producing these large documents, you may well ask. The answer lies in a Mark Twain quote: "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."


It's often easier to ramble on and tell you everything rather than deciding what is truly important and what your audience needs to know. The business plan is a great way for you to clarify your thoughts, consider all the steps and ensure that a holistic view is considered for the proposed actions.


The reality is that not all staff need to know the thought processes behind a current strategy, but they do need to know what is most relevant to them.



2. Set achievable targets and track progress against them

What gets measured, gets managed and gets done. Knowing that someone will be scoring your performance helps focus your attention. So ask yourself, "How am I going to keep the plan on track?"


Think of key performance indicators, or KPIs, as a way for a company to keep score. They help management understand if the company is achieving the objectives set out in the plan. Unfortunately, far too many companies think that standard financial KPIs are sufficient. They are not. KPIs should be driven from the strategy and thus are personal to each business.


Measuring the right KPIs and determining what actions you need to take to ensure that you meet your targets can elevate a company above the competition. For example, failure to meet a quality metric should lead you to ask why, discover that there is an issue with the supplier and ultimately source from a new provider.




3. Find the person who will lose sleep if it isn't done


If you want something done, you need to make someone responsible and accountable. Relying on a group disperses the responsibility and can lead to delays in decision-making and meeting the targets. Holding one individual accountable means that they will be focused on delivering their metric which supports the plan.



4. Communicate and make sure everyone is aligned

Staff need to believe in the plan if it is to be successfully implemented. They need to all be pointed in the same direction heading for the common goal. There is a long history of companies failing, despite having the right strategy, simply because they couldn't get the staff on board.


To do this, you need to communicate the plan and take the time to answer questions from staff. Make sure to address their concerns and seek their feedback. In short, ensure that they understand the vision for the company and their role in it.


Tom Early is a senior investment adviser at Enterprise Ireland, which is running a series of workshops for exporting SMEs on 'finance for growth'.





Source :

Family Governance
Monday, 16 May 2016 15:36

The goal of family governance is to establish a sustainable family structure in relation to the family business. The main purpose of family governance is to define how a family-owned company is to be run once more generations get involved and/or more family members become active within the family business. It covers such questions as how business decisions are taken in such case and how the company's future strategy is to be set out. A good family office in Switzerland can assist you in putting a solid family governance code in place.



What does family governance mean?

The term 'family governance' is not immediately clear to most of us. The main aim of family governance is to cover how a family-owned business is run once more generations or relatives get involved in it. Family governance is therefore not an issue for public companies, but in a family-owned company it could be essential for the continuity of the business to put the right governance in place at the latest when, or just before, the next generation gets involved.



❝ How often do you sit together and discuss the family business? ❞

Family governance will not be an issue if you own 100% of a company yourself and your only child will take over the company (see succession planning). But if you own the company jointly with other relatives and each of you has children, you may very well imagine that the next generation of owners might not completely agree with each other on the way forward.



The complexity of operating a large family business

The more family members get involved in the business, the more their opinions can differ. This could result in a lack of consensus between the family members as long as no clear decision structure is laid down. How will the company strategy be decided on when the family members do not agree with each other on the way forward? How will family members who hold shares in the company, but who are not active in it, be financially compensated? How do family members communicate with each other? A Swiss multi-family office can play an important role in organising this potential trouble spot.


Additionally, good communication between the company and the (inactive) family members is of high importance. If this does not function well, the company, and its performance, could become paralysed. It could also have a negative impact on the relationship between the family members. And how will the company deal with potential threats to the business? All these issues are particularly problematic where part of the company shares are traded publicly.



The main components of family governance

Although there are no set rules, we usually see the following three components:  Family Governance overview


 -  A family constitution, in which the basic principles of the business and the family's policies and views are laid down.


 -  A family council - a council that represents all the family members vis-à-vis the company.

 -  Regular family assemblies, annually or twice a year, including information about the business, education of the younger generations, strategy of the company, potential changes of ownership, etc.


Family governance addresses all these topics and more. Most of the business-owning families find family governance a very difficult topic to address and a lot of family offices are not familiar with this topic at all. In case this topic is important to you, you should make sure to select a family office in Switzerland that has the necessary know-how and expertise to support you with putting the right family governance in place.


How we support you

If you have any questions about putting a family governance code in place and/or the selection of an appropriate multi-family office, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward discussing it with you.










Setting goals and objectives for an effective family business succession plan
Monday, 16 May 2016 09:56

Owners of family businesses often operate and manage their companies on instinct and personal experience, which may leave their management team and stakeholders guessing about the future direction of the business. When implementing a succession plan without the necessary goals and objectives it can hold dire consequences for the business, and may very well lead to disagreements, low staff morale and a decline in productivity and profitability



A succession plan with effective goals and objectives that are aligned to the business strategy and thus the business objectives and business goals, will focus all activities on achieving well-defined targets and will provide a foundation for measurement and evaluation of future business' activities.



Why is it important to define goals when setting a family business succession plan?

Before setting out on the preparation of a succession plan, the family business owner should have a clear understanding of his or her role in the future of the company. These decisions should be communicated to the stakeholders and the goals and objectives should be aligned as such.



Establishing goals and objectives for a family business succession plan

Although the establishment of succession planning goals holds intrinsic challenges, family businesses should implement this process to ensure that all parties are knowledgeable and aware of the future of the business, thus making every effort to avoid conflicts that might harm the business' future.


Grant Thornton (PDF 433 KB) indicates that as preparation starts for the succession plan, the business should engage with the wider group of stakeholders, including family members, employees, suppliers and customers. Engagement and involvement of stakeholders in the development of the future of the company will ultimately result in their approval of the succession plan's goals and objectives and therefore foster greater business stability.



Aligning the goals and objectives of the succession strategy to the family business' overall strategic business plan

A succession plan can only be successful if it is aligned to the strategic business plan of the business, linking the succession goals and objectives with the overall strategic business plan. The development of an overview of key competencies for each position in the business is the roadmap or template for the succession plan.


Of vital importance is the development of specific benchmarks for each position in the business. The benchmark should be developed by skilled and qualified personnel that understands the overall strategic goals and objectives of the business, and can align the expectations and demands of the position with the business strategy and potential candidates, with the assistance of a human resources specialist. These detailed requirements can help ensure seamless changeovers of people into new positions, when required.


Research done by Dobson & Associates (PDF 30 KB) indicates that more than 67% of American corporations do not have a succession plan based on competency. However, the small percentage of businesses that follows a succession plan that is aligned with the overall strategic business plan is able to show quantifiable results.


In conclusion, the most successful succession plans for family businesses, are the ones that have been aligned to the overall goals and objectives of the business that are clearly defined and that provides for development of future business leaders from within.









Keeping a business in the family can be tricky
Thursday, 12 May 2016 10:13

There are benefits to getting involved in a family firm, but there are pitfalls too:

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. The same might be said for your business partners, but many people nonetheless choose to tie their professional and family lives together, bringing with it inevitable ups and downs.
But the Irish family business remains a dynamic and resilient sector, with a 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey saying it provided more than 50 per cent of the State’s GDP and employment.
It is undoubtedly a unique business model that brings with it specific challenges and obstacles. Dr Eric Clinton, director of DCU’s Family Business Centre, says conflict can arise when family values that are “emotionally driven” clash with the business values that are “rationally driven”.
Some of the major factors include succession planning. While the average tenure of a chief executive in a family business is 23-24 years, only one in 10 firms will have a succession plan in place.
Clinton says this is the “hot topic” for family businesses.
“Succession for many family businesses is inevitable. It’s one of the biggest topics people want to talk about. How to do it? When to do it? Who to engage? Is it a family person? What if the family person doesn’t have the attributes?” he says.
Dr Melrona Kirrane, a lecturer in organisational psychology at the DCU Business School, says the onus on family businesses to elevate family members can often have a detrimental effect.
“The family business can’t afford to take a talent management approach, and the reason why they can’t is because of family dynamics,” she says. “While most family companies choose someone from within the firm to carry the business on, they don’t consider the successor’s capabilities, and that’s one of the main reasons for failure.”
The upshot of that is that only 30 per cent of family businesses are expected to survive the first generation. Only 15 per cent are expected to survive to the third generation, and less than 3 per cent are expected to survive until the fourth generation.
One of the ways to combat problems with succession is to put strong corporate governance structures in place. If rules are established and adhered to, the business is less likely to fall foul of some of the usual pitfalls.
What are the rules for getting involved in the business? Is it automatic because you are family? Do you have to work outside the business for a number of years? Do you need to have a particular skill-set or educational requirements?
Of course, when it comes to family, there will always be issues that arise. Clinton suggests a “family council” where issues related to the family are expressed and discussed.
“One of the things families are very often not good at is communication. We see conflicts between siblings; in-law involvement can also create conflict. Some family businesses don’t allow in-law involvement as a rule. That’s about trying to make sure there is harmony and no friction,” he says.
“We see a lot of firms that have a thriving business and it makes no sense on paper for them to be sold, but often it’s just that the family members can neither agree nor agree to disagree. It’s just not functional. Often it gets very personal, and irrationality creeps in very quickly.”
Kirrane points out another pitfall called “consensus sensitivity” which she describes as when people “want to agree the whole time and keep things harmonious”. However, that doesn’t always happen.
There are also gender-related issues. Kirrane says the data indicates that sons – and even sons-in-law – tend to be favoured over first-born daughters when it comes to succession.
“When it comes to daughters, they have a much rougher time. Only 2 per cent of daughters are likely to become presidents in family companies. One reason is the father’s desire to protect the daughter from the cut and thrust of the business world,” she says.
“Daughters also get a double message. Interestingly, women-owned family businesses are 1.7 times more productive than those run by men. They are also six times more likely to have a female chief executive.
“One of the reasons they do well is the feminine qualities of being supportive and co-operative and attentive. They’re less hierarchical and more likely to take more time over decisions and seek information and other people’s opinions.
“That can result in better management, and better business decisions being made. It also means they are better placed to deal with rivalry issues or wellbeing in the family. That’s productive as well.”
Power and competition
That is in stark contrast to the relationships between fathers and sons, which are categorised by control, power and competition.
“The son can want to establish his own identity really fast, leading to competition with the father. The son can feel pressure to outperform the father, which can lead to a lot of poorly thought-through decisions and strategies that may not be helpful,” says Kirrane
There is also the issue of the “glass ceiling” for non-family members in the company, whereby an impression exists that senior management positions will always go to family members.
Paul Keogh is currently chief operating officer with the Ballymore Group and has worked as a non-family member of a number of family businesses over the past 30 years. He says there are “a lot of plusses” to the business model, but that it “doesn’t suit everybody”.
“One of the things families don’t realise is they might meet for Sunday lunch, for example, talk about something to do with work, make decisions, and then you come in on Monday morning and the whole strategy has changed since you left the office on Friday,” Keogh says.
“The other thing that is quite common is that families don’t tend to write anything down. So if you’re a non-family member, you have to pick things up intuitively and realise a conversation has been had that you weren’t involved in. In a plc company, you would just go and find the strategy paper. There tends to be a lot more verbal interaction.”
Keogh also points to the “different mindset” of a family company, which is more concerned with long-term viability than profit-driven goals. “It’s much different to working for a stock market-listed company where the chief executive is completely obsessed with share price,” he says.
“A family business doesn’t answer to the share price and doesn’t have this quarterly review feel to it. Not everything has to be geared towards the financial reporting. They are not necessarily profit- and money-driven.”
Weighing into discussions as a non-family member of the business also brings with it its hazards.
“You have to remember that blood is thicker than water. The advice is to pick your battles,” he says.
“Don’t get involved in that grey area between what is a family dispute and what is a business dispute. If it turns out to have a family element, stay away from it. You are after all an employee and they are family. You have to be comfortable with that.”
Keogh says his advice to family businesses is to steer clear of employing in-laws and to have family members spend two or three years in a different company to get some outside experience.
“You can talk to your siblings and eventually tell them they are not working out, but it’s very hard to fire the in-laws. If you take them on, you’re stuck with them,” he says. “It’s also a good idea to get educated and to go off and spend two or three years somewhere else before you join the family business so you have a little bit of outside experience.”
Family Business Succession: 15 Guidelines
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 15:31
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.
How do the successful ones make it? After working with hundreds of family businesses, we'd like to offer 15 guidelines that we hope will help you during the succession process.
1. Succession is a process not an event
Rather than thinking of succession as an event that happens on a designated day, consider thinking of it as a process that occurs over a long period of time. Parents should begin to lay the groundwork for succession while their children are still small. How? By the way in which they talk about the business at home.
As the classic story goes, the business owner comes home from a typical day at the shop and complains that three key people quit, a customer didn't pay his bill, the suppliers sent the wrong order again, and the bank is threatening to jerk the loan. Then, he turns to his son or daughter and says, Someday, this will all be yours.
Of course the truth of the matter is that most people who are in business for themselves love it, or they wouldn't be doing it. However, the tendency is to talk more about the bad events than the good ones. But making a conscious effort to present a balanced perspective on the family business can help the next generation gain a better understanding and appreciation for the business.
2. Present the business as an option not an obligation
Many, many parents hope that their children will want to follow in their footsteps and join the family business. But some fall into the trap of overselling the need to follow the family tradition. Others never bring up the subject because they don't want to pressure their children. The key is to present it as an opportunity, not as an obligation.
How? We encourage parents to tell 15- or 16-year-old children, Whatever you choose to do with your life, we will support and encourage you. It's probably too soon for you to know now what you want to do. If you should become interested in the family business, you will be very welcome. We have found it to be very rewarding and very fulfilling, but it's clearly not the easiest way to live or the only way to live. It's one of your many options and we will support and encourage you no matter what you decide.
That's a conversation that rarely, if ever, takes place in a family business. But we think it's very important to extend a non-conditional offer of support during the child's high school years because it is very healthy for the son or daughter to think in terms of options.
Speaking of sons and daughters, beware of making assumptions on the basis of your children's sex. In terms of interest and capabilities, both sons and daughters can contribute to your firm's success.
3. Get outside experience
Of the hundreds and hundreds of family business successors we've interviewed, all who have had outside experience said that they recommend it highly.
Why should your child work for someone else after finishing school? There are many good reasons why outside work experience is an advantage. Your sons or daughters can build their own identity, get outside knowledge, increase their self-confidence, bring back knowledge to the business, grow up a little bit, make mistakes on someone else's time, find out what it is like to look for a job, discover what their market value is and learn how to take criticism. But the best reason is that this is how they will learn that the grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence. They will learn that there is no such thing as a perfect boss or a perfect business.
If we can make only one recommendation to young people, it is to work for someone else for three to five years.
But what if that isn't possible? What if the daughter is 32 years old and is now vice-president of marketing? Or, what if the business is small and they need a family member on sweat equity just to survive?
Then we try to find out other ways for that son or daughter to get the same sense of reality and outside perspective. Sometimes that means getting involved with their trade association or with other sons or daughters of another family business or with a community service group.
For many parents, however, it's hard to believe that their children will want to come back, after working somewhere else. But the odds are better than two to one that they will come back, because magnetism to the family business generally increases with age.
4. Hire into an existing job
It's very important to hire your son or daughter into an existing, meaningful, defined job. Why? You will know how much to pay and what to expect. The rest of your staff will know how your child fits into the office hierarchy and how to treat him or her.
Often family businesses hire their children into ill-defined jobs and say, Because you're family, you can do anything that needs to be done around here. We wear a lot of hats and now you do, too. But then you open the door to resentment on the part of the rest of the staff. Sometimes, employees doubt that the second generation is qualified to lead the company. Don't set your son or daughter up for failure by giving him or her an overwhelming but undefined job. Instead, create a situation where progress can be measured.
5. Encourage the development of complementary skills
After the next generation has entered the business, encourage the development of skills that are complementary to your own. Why? Your own skills are probably well ingrained into the business by now. If the parents are super salespeople, then the children are going to need to bring some operations or information system skills to the business. If the parent generation adhered to the philosophy of make it and invent it, then the next generation is probably going to have to know what the terms market segmentation and break-even analysis mean.
Is it easy to accept the fact that your child can improve or add to your business? No. You have to be a very secure person to be open to this type of action from your own child. But consider the alternative: would your business be better off having a second generation who brings nothing and can only try to duplicate everything you have done?
There is a cartoon that shows a son saying, Dad, sales are up 200 percent, production costs are down, and we're on the cover of Business Week. The father says, Yes, and your shoelace is untied. It's hard to recognize and praise our children's professional achievements.
6. Teach the foundations
One of the most valuable things the parent generation can give the next generation is an understanding of the historical, cultural and strategic foundations of the business. It's very useful for the children to be aware of the firm's underpinnings of the underlying principles that hold the enterprise together.
Even though you, the business founder, have lived the business, you may not be able to take a step back and identify your strategies. You may be too close to it all. If that is the case, let your child learn from a key employee who is able to explain why you do the things you do, as well as how you do the things you do. For example, instead of just showing your son or daughter how to treat your customers, the key employee will explain how the customer service policy evolved and what advantages the current policy has.
7. Start with mentors
We always recommend that when the children enter the business, they should work for a mentor rather than with the parent.
The mentor should be the most valuable, loyal, secure, and long-lasting employee. That person should be your alter ego, the one who does all of the things that you don't like to do.
When you set this arrangement up, you should have a conversation with the mentor that goes something like this: I would like Karen to work with you because she can learn a lot from you. But I know what will happen in three to five years. You two will clash. It won't be anybody's fault it's just inevitable that she will want to do something on her own. The moment that happens, the mentoring relationship will end, and I will move her into the next step of the plan that I have in mind for her. It's very important to clarify all of this and set it up right from the start.
We would like to add a word of caution here. Even if you have always made it clear that you intend to keep your business in the family, you may have an employee who believes that he or she is better and more qualified and rightfully deserves the opportunity to lead the company. Could it be that the employee may attempt to undermine your successor's efforts? Be aware that this possibility exists. Be clear, keep your eyes open, and don't let an unpleasant situation build up. You may have to offer the employee two options: recognize the successor's role, or leave the company.
8. Designate an area of responsibility
What is the next step of your plan? Give your son or daughter his or her own area of responsibility. It should be well defined. It could be a certain department. It could be handling the advertising. It could be managing personnel. As your child gains in experience and competency, increase the number of areas of responsibility. By giving pieces of the business, you will be working toward a smooth succession.
The model that we encourage you to have in mind when you think about succession is the track relay race. One runner has the baton, and the other runner has to catch up, take the baton, and continue the race. Your business will pass to the next generation much more smoothly if that second generation is running at full speed right next to you. It should be an exchange that is almost imperceptible.
9. Develop a rationale
I've just described the ideal transfer. But what if somebody breaks stride or stumbles? Lots of things could happen.
As a matter of fact, the transfer zone is usually a very painful period. The parent may go through a grieving period as he or she says goodbye to the business. But the son or daughter has pain also. He or she may have the most pain.
Maybe there is a disagreement over money. Maybe it is over power. Maybe the founder is not entirely convinced that the successor is ready. How do you make it through this period?
You, the founder, and the successor could both benefit from forming a rationale or a statement that says why all this is worth it to you. When things are particularly painful and you are wondering why you are going through this, you can tell yourself, It's difficult now, but it's worth it because For example, after thinking things through, you may conclude, It's worth it because we employ a lot of people, and I'm proud to be part of this business. Sorting out your feelings will help you though this difficult time.
10. Recognize that you are not alone
We have found that it often helps families to know that they are not alone. All families face the same difficult issues such as How should we value the business? and Should the founder keep a title like Chairman of the Board? Somehow, it helps to know that these issues are difficult for everyone who tries to settle them.
It can also help to know that the way in which family members respond to the issues is fairly predictable. In many cases, mothers are overprotective, and fathers think they are invincible. Rather than blaming your oldest son for being too hard driving and too achievement oriented, consider the fact that almost all first born children are like that. Rather than blaming your youngest child for not taking the business seriously, consider the fact that the baby of the family almost never takes anything too seriously.
Rather than thinking that your family members have personality problems, recognize that it is very natural for the people involved to feel the way they do.
Because conflicts are universal, you can learn from other people who have gone through them. That's why we generally recommend joining family-business forums or support groups. Not only will you be able to see how other people resolve their problems, you will also see that you may not be as bad off as you had previously thought. There is almost always someone who is in a worse situation.
11. Have family meetings
Of course, good communication among your own family members is essential. Sometimes productive communication occurs spontaneously, and sometimes you need to plan for it.
At a family meeting, the whole family gets together to discuss an important matter. Sometimes it is best to hold these meetings at an outside neutral location, such as a resort or a restaurant; sometimes it is best to sit around the kitchen table.
How do you begin? You may wish to start by selecting a topic and moderator. We usually recommend, however, that you keep things informal and relaxed so that everyone can participate comfortably.
The benefits of these meetings typically include a greater feeling of unity (or team building), a clearer understanding of the issues, and a better understanding of the family's range of perspectives.
12. Plan, plan, plan
Long before the succession should take place, we encourage the founder to write a business plan, an estate plan and a succession plan all at once. We always know that we're asking for the near-impossible, but we do it anyway because it works. You need to write these plans at the same time because they influence each other.
This is not, however, a do-it-yourself project. Help from your accountant, your attorney, and someone who has knowledge of organizational development is critical. Your job is to bring these experts together and develop the plans that can guide you through the succession period.
We're not going to tell you that it will be easy. We're not going to tell you that you will be able to do it quickly. But the long-range benefits of this approach cannot be overstated.
13. Create an advisory board
We recommend advisory boards to all small businesses. Why? They are an extremely valuable sustaining resource. The board should include the type of people mentioned above (lawyer, accountant, and organizational specialist) and at least one other person from your industry whom you respect. Often, the business owner will offer the board members an honorarium instead of a salary. If liability issues are a concern, you can call the board a council. In any case, you will benefit from group discussions of important issues.
14. Set a date
As you go through the planning process you will be able to determine a realistic and financially advisable termination date. When your plans are concluded, you should know exactly when the leadership evolution process will be complete and you should be ready to hand your business over to the next generation. It is essential that you are fully committed to that date, that your staff is aware of the plan, and that your successor can depend on you to follow through with it.
We have emphasized many times that succession is a process. Choosing a retirement date, preparing your successor, preparing your business for transition, and preparing yourself for a different sort of life are all important components of that process.
15. Let go
Why do so many founders at the end of the transition process say, Well, I was wrong. We are not going to be able to complete the transition this year after all? Or, even worse, why do so many decide that they want to come back to the business two or three years after they left if for good?
It is hard to let go of responsibility. It is hard to let go of authority. But it is even harder to let go of control.
A psychiatrist can give you a lot of explanations about why this is true. Letting go is a very complex and difficult process that should not be underestimated. We're sure you know many business founders who are in their 60s who do not want to leave the business because they are afraid of giving up their identity, they don't know what they're going to do with their time, and they know three people who died the day after they retired.
But we would like to offer an additional explanation for why letting go can be difficult for entrepreneurs. If you are tied financially to the business, it will be almost impossible for you to let go of it.
One of the central goals that you should have while writing your business plan, estate plan and succession plan is to create financial security that has no ties to the business. You need to be financially independent. And if you aren't, you won't be able to resist the temptation of interfering with the business.
Perpetuating a family business is the ultimate management challenge. We're convinced, however, that you can increase your chances for success if you believe that succession is a process that may take fifteen or twenty years to complete. Fortunately, there has recently been a sharp increase in the number of resources (books, journals, support groups, and conferences) that have been developed to help you. We hope that you will take advantage of the support, plan ahead, be candid with your family and staff, and successfully transfer your business to the next generation. Good luck!
These Glass Doctor Franchisees Found Smashing Success in a Family Business
Tuesday, 10 May 2016 11:17

Franchise: Glass Doctor


Franchisees: Husband-and-wife team Kevin and Tamera Tennant


Franchisee/Location: Glass Doctor, of Fairbanks, at the North Pole, Alaska


Number of years in business/Number employees: 6 years as independant entrepreneurs, 11 as franchisees/ 6 employees


Initial Investment: $30,000, on average/Tennants' cost was $12,000



Kevin Tennant first braved the rigors of life at the North Pole as a sergeant in the Air Force. But after leaving the service and deciding to start a family business in his new home in Alaska, he faced the rigors of something equally dangerous: glass. That's how Kevin and his wife Tamera found themselves knee-deep in a local dumpster 20 years ago, digging out shards of glass from trashed windshields.


The point was to use the glass to teach themselves glass-repair skills. So, the couple invested $500 in a rock-chip kit, liberated those windshields from that dumpster -- ironically, the property of a future competitor -- and spent hours upon hours at their kitchen table working with their kit. For income, Kevin joined the National Guard, and Tamara worked at a local video store.


Still, sharpening their skills, so to speak, in glass repair was primary. "At the time, we had zero experience repairing chipped windshields," Kevin Tennant relates by email. "We did make a few phone calls to the company that sold us the rock-chip repair kit, but most of what we know was learned through trial and error. We eventually drove 400 miles down to Anchorage to work in a shop for free so we could learn how to replace windshields, in addition to repairing them."



After an even bigger investment -- the purchase of a truck -- the Tennants took their rock-chip repair kit and the meager experience they had and opened for business in January 1998. Just six months later, they were doing full replacements, in addition to rock chip repairs. "Business was booming and the profit quickly surpassed Tamara's income at the local video store," Tennant says. "By fall, our profits surpassed my income from the National Guard, as well, and we made the glass business our full-time venture."


In 2005, after nine years as independent glass-repair business owners, came the Tennants' move to franchising. "Glass Doctor reached out to me; their plan was compelling enough for me to fly to Waco, Texas, and take a firsthand look," Tennant says. "I saw an opportunity to grow my business, with a ton of help and support from a company I was completely aligned with."


The couple, who already had most of the equipment they needed, purchased the franchise and brand-specific equipment and signage for $12,000 and dove in -- just as they had to that dumpster -- teaching themelves about marketing and managing the business' books. "I've learned to work smarter not harder, and I try to work on my business -- not in it," Tennant writes. "I now feel that I could teach others how to successfully work on their businesses because of all the education and support provided by Glass Doctor over the years."


That education included assistance from what the company calls a Sure Start consultant, as well as a franchise consultant that Tennant was in constant contact with. "At conferences, I paid particularly close attention to the most successful franchisees that attended and what they had to say," Tennant says. "Glass Doctor is always just a phone call or email away; and, without fail, someone there always had the answer I was looking for."


En route, there were some hiccups. "The most unexpected challenge was not having the faith to trust in a system that was proven to work time and time again," Tennant says. "In the beginning, I was too stubborn to take all the advice given by Glass Doctor and considered most of it as not applicable in my market. I frequently failed to provide my franchise consultant valuable information concerning my business so he could help me by comparing benchmarks with other franchisees."



The Tennants' business is now one of Glass Doctor's most successful franchisees. Now, they're "transitioning from growth mode to expert mode," Tennant says. And the advice he offers? It's that potential other franchisees ask themselves honestly if they're ready to implement the franchise system and use it to the fullest, Tennant says. If not, "I recommend you remain an independently owned business.






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