Family Business Assessment


Our highly recognized Family Business Assessment process has been perfected over more than 40 years working with many hundreds of family businesses, large and small, and across the full spectrum of industries.

Family businesses are very complex and difficult to manage because of competing interests. These are the issues that can generate the conflicts that can wreck the business and destroy family relationships.

For instance, if you own or work in a family-owned business, ask yourself this question: “Are decisions generally driven by what is best for the business – or what is best for the family, or even a particular family member?”

The worse scenario is when the decision making process becomes situational and produces inconsistent results that confuse and conflict the family, their business managers and employees.

Our logo, the three interconnected circles, represents the three major “systems” that are present in a family business – the “family system”; the “business management system”; and the “business ownership system”.

These three “spheres of interest” cause problems when they are out of balance.

Changes made in one “system” can produce unintended consequences in the other two systems. For instance, a divorce in a business family begins as a problem in the family “system” – but quickly cascades into the business management and the business ownership systems.

“If there is any one lesson I have learned in working with many hundreds of family businesses, it is that every family business is unique and complex in its own way” observes leading family business expert Don Schwerzler

“A strategy that works well for one family business will be a disaster for another family business. Problem-solving in a family business can be like standing in a room of mirrors - each reflection or memory is slightly altered, each in a different way - for every member of the family.”

Schwerzler has been studying and advising family business entrepreneurs for more than forty years and he is the founder of the Atlanta-based Family Business Institute

For a family business troubleshooter it is often difficult to identify reality from carefully constructed and long-held memories, even fantasies - and difficult to discern cleverly worded fictions.

An important lesson to understand is that a “family business” is the business of relationships. Without family relationships, the problems of family businesses are no different from those faced by non-family businesses.

“The key to most successful family businesses is family relationships. The family relationships may not appear to be critical to the success of family business until succession time - or when there is a crisis due to family bickering, backbiting or outright conflict. The threat or conflict is increased when multiple family members are involved. The complexity and intensity of family conflicts in a business depend on the degree of overlap among the day-to-day management of the business, its ownership and the family. If there are multiple family branches and family members involved, the threat for family conflict can be a time bomb for the business,” says Schwerzler.

Family businesses contact us when they are having problems and need help finding solutions to complicated issues; or when they want to avoid the kinds of problems that have negatively impacted other family-owned businesses that they know. The unfortunate truth is that most family business problems are avoidable!

Consider this: Why do Successful family businesses also seek our help?

Our Family Business Assessment addresses not only the problems, but the opportunities for increasing the size and profitability of the business – in other words, how best to maximize the full potential of the business!

Our Assessment process lays out a blueprint or game plan for growing the business, for maintaining healthy family relationships and then, when the time is right, to transition the business from one generation to the next - or to prepare the business for sale if that is the best option for the owner of the family’s business.

The Family Business Assessment can be done “on-site” at the client’s business and is generally completed over a 2-3 day period, depending on the size of the family. The key component of the Assessment is a series of confidential one-on-one interviews with all of the family members and their spouses. For example, one interview would be done with the husband, one with the wife and then an interview with both of them together.

The Family Business Assessment enables us to be an advocate for each of the family members as well as being an Ombudsman (giving the business a “voice” in the Assessment process) to ensure that the family does not end up killing the goose that is laying the golden eggs!

The Family Business Assessment is specifically designed to avoid disrupting the normal routines of the family and the business – and the results of our Assessment are significant!

The Family Business Assessment can also include interviews with key non-family members of the management team as well as professional service providers such as the family’s lawyer, CPA and financial planner.

The Family Business Assessment can also include testing protocols that enable organizations to build trust, do team building, placing the right people in the right position to scale the business, per-employment profiles and employee retention surveys, and much, much more. If you are a business owner and would like a demo test, let us know and we will send a link to you.

If your family business needs help, simply use the ASK THE EXPERT feature, sponsored by the Family Business Help Desk, to get an immediate response!


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