What Does A Family Business Consultant Do?
Nine ways a family business consultant can help improve business success and strengthen family relationships
Byline: Doug Baumoel and Blair Trippe
Estimated read time: 5 minutes
Family business consultants are uniquely able to help enterprising families navigate the complex issues that arise when family dynamics combine with management, ownership, and economic interests.
Because they bring an informed, independent perspective, they help families and their advisors break through impasses and develop solutions that consider both the family and its business. With broad skill sets in facilitation, negotiation, business, and family dynamics, they help families access new ideas and agree upon—and then implement—change.
If your family is considering working with a family business consultant, here are nine specific ways they can help:
- Transition and Succession Planning
Transitioning a family enterprise to the next generation or adapting as families grow and evolve requires considering how management, ownership, and vision need to change to keep the enterprise strong and the family aligned. Implementing a transition strategy is complex and requires forethought about managing conflict.
Often, the reason why clients call Continuity is to help resolve and manage conflict. Because family ownership and management of an enterprise add complexity to an already complex system, the potential for conflict in a family business is high. Naturally occurring differences in goals and values among family members can lead to continuous friction, discomfort, and escalating conflict if left unaddressed.Continuity specializes in helping families work through situations of conflict. We also offer training on managing differences so families are better able to recognize growing conflict and know how to understand and address these tensions.
- Getting “Unstuck”
In an effort to sidestep confrontation and conflict, family members sometimes avoid sensitive or emotionally charged issues. The result can be getting stuck and hindering any chance of making important business decisions. This leads to missed business opportunities and also damages relationships among family members over time. A family business consultant can recognize where you’re stuck and provide a safe process through which needed change and development can happen.
- Leadership Development
Does the next generation have what it takes to run the company? Do your family business leaders work well with employees and instill commitment at all levels? Some consulting firms, like Continuity, offer leadership development services to help next generation owners cultivate their skills, so they can thrive in future roles.
- Unexpected Crisis
Illness, death, divorce, and litigation among family members can all precipitate a sense of emergency and endanger the family business. Addressing the ramifications of these crises in all realms is critical for enterprising families.
- Governance Development
Proper family governance is an essential part of generational success. What is the policy for hiring family members? How are family employees objectively reviewed? How are shares in the business bought, sold, or gifted? What are the clearly defined powers of a family board? Can in-laws participate in the family business? A good family business consultant can help stakeholders understand, implement, and practice good governance.
- Exit Strategy
Considering the option to sell the family business can seem like crossing a minefield. Are you the right owner for your business? Is unresolved conflict forcing the sale? Is it the right market to sell? With no heir apparent, is selling the only course of action? Is there a family legacy of philanthropy that will survive the sale of the business and keep the family connected with purpose? How do you prepare the next generation for new wealth? You are retiring from the family business, but what are you retiring to? A skilled family business consultant can help you clarify your exit opportunities and prepare for the best outcome.
- Facilitation for Family or Board Meetings
A facilitated family meeting by experts who understand family dynamics and business needs can begin or enhance the process of establishing a shared family vision and trust. Have the demands of running the family business blurred the original goals and values that brought early success? Has the enthusiasm of some stakeholders overshadowed the dreams of the founders?A family meeting may work as a stepping stone to a more transparent and respected family board of directors. Productive meetings based on your agenda are essential to getting things done, maintaining relationships, learning new skills, and forging alignment on goals.
- Family Employee Reviews
The process of reviewing family employees can be very different from non-family employees. How can you help family-member employees develop career paths in the family business that are both satisfying for the individual and beneficial for the firm? How can you ensure a fair review of family employees, even by non-family employees? Sometimes a third party can help to deliver feedback to family employees in a way that facilitates growth and protects internal business relationships.
Ready to get started?
These are just nine of many reasons clients engage with family business consultants. Clients contact Continuity because our tailored solutions are supported by a unique approach and expertise in managing conflict when continuing relationships matter. A family business consultant could transform your business or your family relationships in ways you have not yet imagined.
Schedule your confidential consultation with our experts now.