Tag: family owned business

Understanding Family Business Dynamics

The Family Business – It’s Not Easy!

Managing a family business presents unique challenges not faced by businesses owned and operated by unrelated individuals.  If not addressed, family issues can divide the family and damage or destroy the business.  The larger the family, the more difficult it is to address the challenges. Ignoring the problems is Understanding Family Business Dynamicsnot a solution because they will not go away.

Statistics show that only 10 to 15 percent of family businesses make it to the third generation and only three to five percent make it to the fourth generation.

Typically, the business is started by the first generation and the founder’s children go to work in the business.  While the founder is alive and well, he or she takes the lion’s share of the compensation and profits and, most of the time, everyone appears to get along.  After the founder is gone, the second generation may continue to get along, but in many cases, it becomes a competition to see who can take the most and work the least. This puts a great deal of financial stress on the business because it now may have to support two, three or more families at the level that it previously supported one.

If the business does make it to the third generation, there are many more children involved and the problem grows exponentially, which almost always leads to its demise.

Compensating family members fairly

When it comes to family business, fair is not equal.  Although the business may be owned by many family members, the ones that actually work in the business must receive fair compensation for the jobs they do.  If one family member is the company’s top salesperson and her older brother is a part time worker, they should not receive equal compensation.  For a family business to succeed over multiple generations, there can be no entitlement.  The top performers can get a job anywhere; they do not have to stay in the family business.  If the performers leave, the entitled people are in trouble.

If after everyone receives fair compensation for their services, profits can be distributed to all owners, but only in an amount that will leave the business with enough cash to continue operations.  The business should never make the mistake of borrowing to make distributions.

To succeed in the end, business decisions must be right for the business and family decisions must be right for the family.  All of the children may not be interested in the business, or your youngest daughter may have more to contribute than your oldest son.  When it comes to the business, each family member should be evaluated based on what they bring to the table, not who their parents are or the order in which they were born.

We’ve got your back

At KRS CPAs, we know business is personal for you and your family. Learn more about our services for family-run businesses and contact me at 201.655.7411 or [email protected] to discuss your situation.

 

Food for Thought from NJBIZ FoodBizNJ Conference

Having recently attended the FoodBizNJ conference, “Setting the Table for Growth”, I would like to share some “food for thought” I took away from the conference.

Food for Thought from NJBIZ FoodBizNJ ConferenceNew Jersey is home to many food manufacturers, distributors, retailers, restaurants, farms, and the service providers to those companies. However, the industry does face challenges that are not specific to New Jersey.

Some key concerns are:

Managing the workforce

As many food manufacturing jobs do not require a college degree, it is possible to have a career in the food industry without a college education. If necessary, advanced education can come later, however, “soft-skills” training is necessary and most likely will need to be provided by the employer.

As stated by Donna Schaffner, Associate Director: Food Safety, Quality Assurance & Training, Rutgers Food Innovation, it is expected that individuals entering the workforce today will have 22 different jobs in their lifetime. Having a strategy for training and retaining these individuals is critical. Training time and dollars must be well spent in an effort to retain those trained employees.

Understand your margins

It is critical to have a handle on your production costs and gross margin. The first step to setting prices is to understand your cost structure. This is not an exercise that is performed only once; costs change and require constant monitoring. Costs can change materially over time. Costs that are too high and prices set too low can result in disaster. If changes are not monitored and quickly acted upon, the business may experience significant losses.

Specific challenges for family food businesses

A very low percentage of family food businesses make it to the 4th generation. Many of those that do have a “family first” mantra that extends the definition of “family” to long-time employees. Many successful multi-generational family businesses get each succeeding generation involved as early as possible and strive to teach them the business from the ground up. It is perfectly acceptable if some family members choose a different career path but retain ownership interests in the business.  The most successful multi-generational businesses employ family members in active roles, and each generation enthusiastically attempts to contribute to the business’s successful continuation.

What is one challenge that KRS has seen in multi-generational food businesses?

In our practice, we frequently encounter family businesses struggling with under-performing family members involved  in the business. It is often a difficult subject to approach when “family first” is your mantra.  A good executive training program as well as holding family members to the same standards as other employees is a good first step in avoiding the problem early on. Utilizing a performance-based evaluation and compensation program may also help alleviate any discontent within the generations.

This is one of the many challenges we have seen in multi-generational family businesses. If you are in a family food business and you have a unique challenge contact KRS CPAs as we can offer a fresh, independent evaluation of your business.