Two dozen members of the Virginia Council of CEOs met over lunch last week to share what they know about “Thriving in a Family Business.” The 90 minute session at the Robins School of Business was a chance for the CEOs to talk about the challenges of running a family business, and to share what they have learned with others.
Here is a sampling from the experiences of this group.
- Objectivity is difficult if the decision makers are all family. Bring in consultants or set up an outside board to get some perspective on strategic decisions.
- One M&A pro advised that most successions don’t end well. To beat the odds, start a plan ten years ahead.
- Planning elements that were discussed include: buy/sell agreement; a defined conflict resolution process; a management structure with defined decision making powers and check & balances; wealth transfer mechanisms; and regular family meetings to discuss the plan.
- Separating family time from business time is difficult. Some recommended scheduling blocks of time away from the business with a “no shop-talk” rule in place.
- Recommended for reading were: Familybusinessmagazine.com; and Family Wealth, Keeping it in the Family, by James E. Hughes.