I didn't start out to become a family therapist. It just happened. If you're the Owner of a family business perhaps you can relate to this week's message.
Working with family business owners is fun, challenging and very rewarding for me. Their business and personal lives are intertwined. More interesting is when you add in partners (and their families) who also own and run the company. Another layer of complication. Blood family or work family they typically interact very much the same. They are family and that means holidays and special occasions together, personal conversations and typically some fighting. Sometimes resolved and sometimes not.
If they are fortunate, respectful of each other and work hard at it the experience can be quite wonderful. If not it can get messy. As with any family dynamic everyone has their role and typically home actions are seldom different from work actions.
To keep the peace, you've learned to accept and deal with their peculiarities, their specific needs and the lack of change - no matter how hard you try to accommodate them. People don't change and hoping they will is a common theme in family businesses. Sometimes it only affects the family. Often the behaviour can reach into the success of the company and have a very real negative impact on non family/owner staff.
At some point you will determine that it's time to deal with the idea of transition. This is where I come in. If you think what I've written so far is even close to the truth wait until you start the transition process. The opportunity for challenges multiplies exponentially. Issues and ideas that have been tabled in the past, now need to be dealt with. Ambitions come out and the jockeying for position heightens.
Family therapy is only one part of the process, but it can be as key to your success as cash flow, sales & marketing, human resources and production. You will be riding two sides of the same sword, family and business.
You may think you have the family side handled until the serious conversation starts about the business. Who will run what, who gets what and about a thousand other things you never thought you would be dealing with. This is why I take on the role of a 'family therapist' as well as a Transition Advisor.
To address the many family and business issues that can come up we've created the Custom Transition Roadmap. In our process, both sides are covered and one without the other is not advised. Remember it's a 'family business'.
If you'd like to know a little more about our Transition Roadmap please click here.
Excerpt from my book Moving Forward ' Get the Triple Effect - Sell your business for 3 x more and 3 x faster.'
If you don't prepare properly, the fallout will be far worse than you think:
1. Your spouse/family will be left to run or sell the business. Your spouse may be forced to work with your partner. That goes two ways. How would you like to be in the position of working with your partner's wife? Sobering thought isn't it.
2. Company value will drop dramatically because you are not there to run it. In many cases you are the business. Want to find out if that's true?
3. Your employees may end up out of work.
4. Customers are not quite as loyal as you think.
5. Competitors will be circling your customer list within minutes.
6. In case your big plan is to die with your boots on. Good luck. You will likely be leaving a legacy and a mess. They'll definitely be talking about you. Maybe just not in the way you hoped.
If you don't want this to happen you have 2 choices:
1. Sell now, knowing it will be significantly harder than you thought, and you will realize far less payment for the business. The terms of the sale may not be exactly what you were hoping for, or even close. You'll have little choice and be forced to be content with the deal however it turns out.
2. Start getting your business ready for a successful sale or transition and have the future you always thought you could have. Become a company desired by Buyers. Sell for the amount you wanted or possibly far more. Sell on your terms.
You can't properly do #1 or #2 without a plan and a team to implement it. It's really not much more complicated than that.
In many cases what today is a thriving multi-million dollar business started out as just a seed of an idea from the Owner. Carefully and skillfully tended it grew and thrived. Business Owners in transition often seek a Buyer who will tend their garden with the same care. A2E