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Longevity—Three things I learned in session five

Posted on Monday, May 23rd, 2022
By Dan Beenken
On May 20, we heard from panelists Dennis Jaffe, Meghan Juday and Mike Klauer about the longevity of family-owned businesses. In case you missed our last Virtual Breakfast Series of the 2021-22 program season, here are my top three takeaways from the session.
  1. Stewardship vs. Ownership
    This is a bit subtle in semantics but the definitions are powerfully different. Families with 100-year-old firms think of themselves as stewards of the business first and owners second. Longevity and leaving things better than they’ve found it is directly intertwined into the concept of stewardship.  
  2. Professionalization – 100-year-old firms are associated with families who continue to push down the path of professionalizing the business. That comes in a variety of forms and processes. First and foremost is an Advisory or Fiduciary Board. Other things are also part of this movement from a founder-centric organization to a multi-generational family firm.  Those include non-family leadership, a family council, family meetings, etc.
  3. Exit Opportunities/Pruning – Most 100-year-old firms have had to do some level of pruning of the tree. Sometimes the size of the firm dictates a winnowing of ownership. At other times, family relationships, goals, and values do that job. However it happens, it's probably inevitable that all branches of the tree are not always going to be stay together as a family ownership unit. Be prepared and know that pruning is necessary. 

Thanks for joining us for a great season of expert panelists and useful workshops—all focused on family businesses!