The New Trend in Small Business – The Family Business Council

The days of casually-operated family businesses have come to an end. In order for a small business to compete with large, commercial corporations, successful family businesses have turned from a casually run operation to a small empire run by a board of directors. Some of these savvy businesses have now also jumped into a new trend: creating a Family Business Council.Keep in mind however a board of directors and a Family Business Council are two entirely different things.The DifferenceA Family Business Council is structured more like an open forum and is used to directly resolve issues within the family that are critical in terms of the success of the business. Since often the line between family and business gets blurred in a family-run operation, the Family Business Council provides an open setting where members of the business and family can resolve issues that if left unresolved can lead to confusion, stress and even a business’s downfall.Structure Your BusinessIf you structure a Family Business Council for your small business, it is important to create a foundation of policies that will resolve potential issues that may arise later. Some common policies that need to be created include:Authority and Responsibility – Create a clear definition of who holds what authority and who is responsible for what positions in the company as well as in the family council. Each individual should have a set list of expectations, responsibilities and a clear definition of what their authority entails. In the end, everyone involved in the business should be clear on who they report to and what they do for the company.
Work Hours and Vacation – A set number of work hours/days as well as vacation provisions per family employee should be created as part of the business policy manual.
Office Life – Members of the company should have a clear definition of where their office or workspace is, what work items they will provide on their own and what items belong to the company – family or not.
Compensation and Benefits – A detailed pay structure must be created that outlines each member of the company and how much he or she receives in terms of compensation as well as healthcare or retirement benefits.The Family Business Council should create all of these policies using an “open forum” technique so that no family member or non-family member of the company feels favoritism comes into play in terms of company policy.Getting Started In Your Small BusinessYou can grow your business using both a board of directors and a Family Business Council. Businesses that do not operate with a board of directors should still use a Family Business Council in order to create a fair operating structure for their family-run operation. The initial meeting should be hosted by a business consultant who is not related to the business owners or directly associated with the business in any way. Ensure that the business advisor uses the first meeting to:Create an environment based upon mutual agreement and trust amongst all family members involved in the business.
Give all members of the family council a chance to share opinions about business operations and bring up any underlying business issues they have.
Give the key family members within the business a chance to define goals for the company overall, listen to issues and reconcile any family disputes that ma be directly effecting the company.
Provide assistance to family members when it comes to defining authoritative roles, relationships and the responsibilities of all company employees.The Bottom LineA Family Business Council is a fear-free environment – meaning anyone who attends has the right to speak their opinions without fear of backlash, disagreement or future punishment. It is important for each family member to speak his or her mind in regards to the business operations until the entire group comes to a consensus. By doing so you will grow your business, but also grow your family trust and structure within the company.

How Do Best Home Based Businesses Fail? Transforming Your Business Into a Hobby or Charity Work

In a previous article “Why Some of the Best Home Based Businesses Fail – Small Sweet Spot” we discussed the foundation relationship between basic business elements of Compensation, Qualification, and Gratification. What happens when one factor is missing and two are present? In this article we discuss one of the delusions resulting from having two of the pieces, gratification and qualification but lacking compensation.• Gratification + Qualification – Compensation = Hobby/CharityIf you are qualified and gratified, but not compensated, you should acknowledge that your “home business” pursuit may be a hobby or perhaps charity work, but it is not a business. Even non-profit businesses must receive sufficient financial resources from sales or donors to support the operations and staff compensation for business continuity. If this is true for “non-profits” then certainly a “for-profit” home business must make more money than it costs to operate. That includes paying you for your time investment. Abundance of love for the “business” is not enough. Money is the life blood of business.Don’t delude yourself by calling your hobby a business or vice versa. Be realistic, does it make money, or cost?
Indeed, many people have successfully converted hobbies into viable businesses. However, the transition between the two is uphill work and requires functional knowledge of, and adherence to, sound business principles. It is not enough to be the best pie maker at the county fair. Running a business is less about making pies and more about making money.Don’t confuse the two. Hobbies don’t require a financial payback to exist. With a hobby you are free to spend as much resource (effort, time, money, enthusiasm toward perfection, etc.) as you are comfortable without expectation of compensation. You may find pleasure in your hobbies and charity work without the expectation of profitability which should be a prerequisite for a home business. The hobby-to-business conversion requires a bottom line approach and business discipline for financial sustainability. For example, your hobby might be cooking and your guests may rave about your secret hamburger recipe and suggest you ought to “take it on the road” because it’s better than “_____ “(you name the fast food restaurant). Intuitively, anyone can make a better tasting hamburger than the host of major fast food franchises, but it is their business system, training, cash flow requirements and management, product consistency, quality control, and other fundamental business practices that distinguish the success of the “big ones” from your new business – Awesome Burger Inc.Being novel isn’t enough either. Unique products and services come and go. Your brilliant invention will consume a tremendous amount of money and time taking it to market with substantial risk. And, because a single sale is not enough, business sustainability requires the sale of one or more products or services to a demanding market on a regular basis.Continuous sales, and even better repeat sales, are the fountain springs of cash flow and are the fuel that keeps the business thriving. The failure to recognize the importance of positive cash flow (adequate compensation) will inevitability lead to failure of the business. If a hobby is mistakenly believed to be a business, the irrational response, will be to infuse more money to keep it going when the fundamental model of compensation is flawed. If cash flow is unreliable, the business will fail regardless of the skill. The cold hard fact is, business without cash flow = bankruptcy. Moreover, if you are unable to pay yourself and all the money goes to keeping the business alive with no reasonable hope of change, perhaps it should fail.As often as the hobby to home business conversion ends in failure, despite the sincerity of the owner, perhaps more heartbreaking is the reverse situation, a viable home business that through neglect or indifference declines on a path to a hobby, then “bankruptcy”. A hobby is very friendly and accommodating. It does not impose expectations of performance. It allows you to show up when you want, participate with as much or little attention or commitment as you want, and achieve the level of quality you please and because there is “no skin” in the game and no requirement to be “successful” or profitable there is no accountability. People, who have a home business without the basic discipline and commitment to run it like a business, have deluded themselves and effectively convert a potentially profitable venture into a hobby. Those who treat their business like a hobby will soon find that it has made the transition.Tragically, people often make the mistake of unintentionally converting a business into a hobby after they have made substantial investments of time, finance, or personal and emotional commitments to a home “business” with the expectation of return on those investments. Due to “neglect” they soon see their “capital” erode, lose their investment, as well as damage their relationships, certainly their confidence, and then blame the business and finally wonder, “Where did it go wrong?” From the beginning, it was their failure to discriminate their hopes from aspirations, their dreams from actions, and a hobby or charity work from a the needs of a business. It pays for you to be honest with yourself. Is this a business or just a hobby? Know the difference and make the right choice. Mind your own business! No one else will.

The Case for Mobile Computing and Wi-Fi – SAVE MONEY

Do you have field employees? Does your staff spend (a significant amount of) time out of the office during the day, only to rush back at the end of the day to wrap up their “normal” work, accumulating a significant expense (in overtime, and more) for your business? If you answered yes, you are not alone.This is a very common scenario for many businesses, and while Smartphone’s and PDA’s have helped clear some of the email backlog there is often other work to be done requiring access to office systems and services and returning to the office.By using a local and Free Wi-Fi Hot-Spot and one of a variety of technology solutions your staff can be productive during random moments of idle / downtime, waiting time, etc., decreasing (or eliminating those) unnecessary trips back to the office (during or at the end of the day) and SAVING YOU MONEY.For example:1) If you are using Cloud services for email, file sharing, or business applications, you may only need an internet connection and a web browser to be productive like your back in the office. Instead of using a desktop, the same functionality is available on a notebook, net-book, tablet / iPad or Smartphone.2) If you have an office server with remote desktop / access capabilities, your technology may only be a VPN or Remote Desktop connection away. Again, by using a (shared) notebook, net-book, or tablet / iPad, access to key business services and technology may be an internet connection away.Wouldn’t you like to save money? Reduce or eliminate your overtime spend? Get your employees home to their families at a normal hour? Consider the possibilities of mobile computing. You may be surprised!