Improvements, Transitions and Sustainability
The family business is one of America’s most venerable yet vulnerable institutions. The rewards of success are prosperity, pride, and purpose at a higher level than we can usually attain in non-family businesses. The pains and punishments for dysfunction in a family business are also at a far higher level than we can normally attain in a non-family business.
Trouble at work in the family business does follow the family member home and threatens to push that home into dysfunctions that emanate from the business and spread toxins into family relationships. One of our clients lamented, "You have to help me fix this situation. Our family won’t survive another Thanksgiving like we just had."
Negotiating Clear and Fair Boundaries
ASiQ understands the complexity and necessity of creating, negotiating, and maintaining clear and fair boundaries within the family business. Unlike the non-family owned-and-managed business, there is not a clear and automatic boundary between the business and the family members both inside and outside the business.
This means that, in a family business, clarity must be explicit for the day-to-day boundaries that define who holds power—how it is exercised and when it is limited, how the hiring and firing of family members is conducted—and indeed, is the company a family-oriented family business or a business-oriented family business?
Improving Business Process and Profitability
ASiQ is skilled in improving the business processes and profitability of family businesses while, at the same time, assisting the family in generation-to-generation succession planning, as well as establishing governance at the shareholder, board, and management tiers that enable families to be sophisticated as both owners and operators.
We are sensitive to families’ sensitivities and we are creative and practical in facilitating concurrent business progress and family conflict resolution/avoidance.
Successful Family Business Transitions Ensure Sustainability
Sustaining a family business over multiple generations requires that each generation of the family successfully make the transitions and adaptations required to give the company new life.
Markets change with much greater velocity in the twenty-first century than in prior eras. Business management teams must be discerning and flexible in order to detect changes as they occur. Management must adapt rapidly to markets, trends, and times. Many fast-growing, high-performance companies of a few decades ago are gone or wizened.
We have seen this happen to companies both large and small: from Blockbuster to the local video store, from Kodak to Hank’s Cameras, from KMart to Becker’s General Store, from Woolworth’s to the Corner Store. "Adapt or die" is an inevitable and recurring business challenge.
Rapidly Adapting to Change
In a family business, change is often seen as the renunciation of a valued family trait or practice, perhaps the loss of a sentimental or core piece of family identity. Change in a family business can become a battle between siblings, generations, cousins, family who work in the company and family who are shareholders but do not work in the company. There will be some family members who would rather fail than change, thinking they must stay true to the founder rather than the future. The company's future depends, of course, on its readiness to change rapidly and in some industries often, reinventing parts of the business to respond to the market's new demands, as discussed in the preceding paragraph.
Best Outcomes Retain Family Values
ASiQ is expert in thoughtfully parsing the business issues out of the weave of the family issues and the family issues out of the weave of the business—and in helping families address them separately and usually wisely. We work with families, owners, and managers in these painful deadlocks to achieve fair, functional outcomes that allow the business to turn a corner while dealing openly and fairly with competing family values and views.
We Help Family Businesses
Families Hire ASiQ Because:
- They learned that we have proven helpful to families at those controversial moments when a family business is challenged to make a significant change of course.
- They valued the fact that ASiQ’s founder knows the language and culture of family business. He grew up observing the changes and challenges of a long-running family business on his mother’s side of the family. He understands the sensitivities of family businesses and knows how to respectfully and effectively navigate between family and business considerations.
- They said it was helpful that ASiQ has successfully coached and assisted families in succession planning, generational hand offs, and how to be a business-oriented family business based on the family’s goals and values.
- They were looking for people skilled at helping families and family members through changes in the roles of family members in management as well as the relationship with non-family managers.
- They required the fact that we are experienced in helping multi-generational family ownership adopt structure to become wise business owners and stewards.
- They had heard that we have the skills and know-how to help a family-owned business cope with what to do when no family member is available or ready to run the company.