5 Reasons to Make Starting a Family Business Your New Year’s Resolution

Image credit: Mays Business School at Texas A&M University | Flickr

December 19, 2014

A new year is an opportunity for a fresh start in your business and family life. There are good reasons to consider combining the two in a family business. All of the family business owners I’ve interviewed have been frank about the challenges of running a family business and have shared how to avoid pitfalls. The consensus is that it’s rewarding and worthwhile, if you can make it work. A few shared that it saved their family from breakups and economic devastation. Here are five reasons why you should give the idea of owning a family business your full attention:

1. Represent your culture.

T&T Supermarket Inc. is an Asian supermarket chain that has been operating for over 20 years. Cindy Lee, CEO, was a housewife with few options to cook traditional foods and decided to solve the problem with a family business. She works with her daughter, Tina Lee, director of strategy and operations. Tina wants to be as successful as her mother, and views her family business as an opportunity to represent her culture. According to Tina, “Our mission has expanded to be an ambassador of Asian food and Asian cuisine. One of our challenges is to extend our customer base beyond the Asian family and grow it into the mainstream family as well.”

Related: How Ethnic Brands Grow Beyond Their Niche

2. Leave a legacy.

Jennifer Gannon operates BonaVista Pools, with her brother and sister. Her mother, Liz Gannon, is the principal owner. They build custom pools for world-class luxury brands. Her father built the business and left it to the family when he passed at age 60.

Jennifer remembers the spiritual legacy her father left behind after watching her father run the family business: “My father demonstrated a tremendous work ethic, a great love for his wife and his five children and a deep faith.”

Legacy is important in Jennifer’s family and business. Her grandmother wrote a book covering 100 years for her 50th wedding anniversary, sharing her family history as far back as 30 years before she was born. Documenting your journey of starting and growing a family business may help your present and future family members avoid mistakes and have a head start in life.

3. Become your child’s hero.

Gail Souter, of Beck Taxi, is the general manager of her soon-to-be third generation family business. She credits her entrepreneur dad for her success and opportunity to run a company. Her leadership team includes her husband, her two children and her son-in-law.

Kristine Hubbard, operations manager and Gail’s daughter, is proud of her mother. “My mom is my ultimate role model. It’s so much to do with the way that she has built this business, and the way that she’s known as being a fair and trustworthy person.”

4. Grow personally and professionally.

Bruce and Lori Zeller operate Williams Kampgrounds of America. Their daughter, Madison, has worked in guest services. Running the campground requires their full attention and energy. Lori is honest about the demands of their family business: “This job is not for the weak or the faint of heart.”

Some days include digging out sewer lines, cleaning up vomit, toilets and “deposits” left by kids who“lose it” in the swimming pool. They work 12 to 14 hours, seven days a week during a typical season. Overcoming their challenges has produced growth in their personal and business lives. The rewards of business ownership make it worth it.

Related: Why Business Ownership Is an Exercise in Personal Development

5. Solve problems for your own family and others.

J.D. and Shelly Sun are the co-founders of BrightStar Care, a healthcare staffing company. The company was birthed out of frustrations around finding quality care for J.D.’s mother. His mother passed away just prior to their marriage, and they started the company several months later in memory of her.

J.D. and Shelly quit their jobs. His advice at a recent conference was to go for it: “What did we know about healthcare? Nothing. But, we knew that we could make a difference. We could figure this thing out, because I had just been through this experience with my grandma. I knew that there were other people out there just like us, waiting for someone like us to provide them a solution to help them with their grandparents.”

A new year is chance for a new you and a new family. Consider becoming a business family. Take time to craft new year’s resolutions that include working together and building a successful family business.

Daphne Mallory
Family Business Expert, Owner & Mentor

What the Sharks on Shark Tank Can Teach You About Your Business

Understanding what prominent investors look for in companies can help your business succeed.

November 10, 2014
For most small-business owners, an appearance on the reality show Shark Tank is most likely far from their list of top 10 business priorities. But for almost all small-business owners, appearing on the show is a great opportunity to get a free education on what’s important in business. Shark Tank, which has been around since 2009, offers aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch a business idea to five investors (the “sharks”) in the hopes of getting one or more of them to invest in their ventures.Over time, the Shark Tank cast has varied a bit. The current lineup of sharks includes:

  • Mark Cuban, a successful Internet entrepreneur and current owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team;
  • Barbara Corcoran, a New York City real estate mogul who started her now-multibillion dollar business with a $1,000 loan;
  • Lori Greiner, an idea woman who’s made a fortune creating new products and selling them on her QVC show;
  • Robert Herjavec, a “rags to riches” entrepreneur who found business success in the technology industry;
  • Daymond John, founder of the design brand FUBU, who’s now considered a fashion mogul and is a much-sought-after branding and business expert; and
  • Kevin O’Leary, a venture capitalist who made his fortune in software educational products.

Each shark started from humble beginnings and built their fortune from the ground up. They know what it takes to be successful, and they apply that knowledge to determine which opportunities are good investments for them to take on.

On every episode, there’s a pattern to the questions the sharks ask each entrepreneurial presenter. As expected, the questions focus on financials and market viability. And that’s how the show relates to you: As an entrepreneur and small-business owner, knowing the financial specifics and viability of what you offer your market is critical to your success in business.

Think you really understand every inch of your business? Here are five critical questions the sharks ask that you’d better know the answers to when it comes to your business:

1. What are your sales? This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many budding entrepreneurs can’t answer this question with an exact number. The sharks want to know this so they can determine if the product or service you’re selling is something people have actually shown they want. You should know the sales number for the year to date and, at the very least, last year and the year before. It may sound obvious, but the numbers should be increasing year after year. Knowing what these numbers are can tell you if you’re trending in the right direction.

2. How much does the product sell for, both wholesale and retail? The sharks want to get a feel for the pricing in the marketplace to determine whether you’ve got a viable investment. And it’s important to make a distinction between wholesale and retail pricing as those are very different numbers. There’s often quite a huge gap between what a wholesaler will pay (so they can make money) and what you can charge the customer directly.

3. How much does it cost to make the product? The sharks want to know what your margin is—the difference between what it costs to make your product and your sales price. It’s a good thing to have a low cost to produce whatever you’re selling, and looking for alternative methods that allow you to make your product with the proper quality at the lowest possible price is good for your bottom line. All of the sharks light up when a product margin is good because that’s a sign that they’ll be able to recoup their investment.

4. What are your profits? Knowing what’s left over after all the expenses, including your paycheck, have been paid is an indicator of good management. If your business is healthy, profits should grow year over year. Way too many small-business owners focus on revenue as the single most important number. But that’s a big mistake because you could actually have millions of dollars in sales and absolutely no profit to show for it. The sharks want to know your profit because their investment means they own part of the company—they aren’t just investing in a business out of the goodness of their heart. It’s about business and getting a good return on their investment.

5. How much debt do you have? Your ideal situation is zero debt, though that’s rare to achieve. But keeping your debt low is critical; it eats away at your profits and can keep you awake at night. You should do your best to stay away from adding debt to your financial equation. Getting a shark—or any other source—to invest in a company with a lot of debt would be a tough sell.

Of course, these aren’t all the questions the sharks ask during the show. There are plenty more that can help you learn how to make your business better. So why not pull up a chair and watch? The best part is, you can get this valuable education for free.

Read more articles on money.

Photo: Getty Images


Author, Small Business Cash Flow: Strategies for Making Your Business A Financial Success

Bring Donuts: The Secret To Effective Customer Development – PR Tips For Startups

Today was an exciting day because I helped a client “get out of the building,” and solicit product feedback from strangers. For those who follow startup guru Steve Blank, “getting out of the building” i means actually leaving your desk (gasp), risking rejection, and putting your idea before the public. It can be a nerve-wracking experience for an introverted, product-focused entrepreneur, but it’s invaluable.

We were armed with two dozen donuts, hot coffee, warm smiles and our assumptions. Turns out donuts were a smart move. The pastel pink pastry box is a trigger and people know what’s inside, even when they didn’t want to eat the donuts.

via Bring Donuts: The Secret To Effective Customer Development – PR Tips For Startups.

Posted by in Customer Development

8 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read in 2015

My dad always used to tell me that the difference between the “you” now and the “you” 20 years from now will be the places you visit and the people you meet. I would also add baldness and gray hair to that, but they don’t sound as cool.He was right. Whether you meet someone in person or read a book he or she authors, people are pivot points that enable learning and foster personal growth for others.

via 8 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read in 2015.

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