Are You an Entrepreneur or a Leader?

CBS Money Watch recently published an article comparing and contrasting entrepreneurs and leaders.

The entrepreneurial leader, the author noted, are people who not only changed our lives but changed life as we know it. He noted as entrepreneurial leaders people such as Steve Jobs (Apple), Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia), Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Henry Ford (Ford Motor Co.), and Sam Walton (Walmart).

While I very much liked the article, I thought it could possibly have been comparing leaders and managers.

And at the same time, I see significant value recognizing distinctions and nuances, when and where they exist, between manager, leader and entrepreneur. Awareness of and the ability to articulate distinctions demonstrate an intense knowledge and understanding. The Sami, for example, an Artic indigenous people, have hundreds of words for snow (Wikipedia).

What do you think? You can read the article at http://bit.ly/zvGiRl.


Why Family Business?

Approximately 85% of all businesses are family-owned – from neighborhood mom-and-pop stores, to the millions of small and midsize companies, as well as the household names such Wal-Mart and Ford Motor Company.

While not unlike most small businesses, less than 30% make it past the third generation. Family-owned companies, however, enjoy a comparative advantage over their management-based counterparts. A success stemming from shared values, industry knowledge, and skills learned over generations, as well as other traditional competitive advantages of small business.

Why family business? I grew up in a third-generation family construction business, listening to my father talk about business around the dinner table.

I started and sold an environmental management business, and completed training as a business coach. Since 1996 I’ve worked with closely-held and family business owners on leadership development and business growth; and now focus exclusively on working with 2nd-4th generation family-led businesses, out of a sense of a family business’s overall value to society. I also lecture on family business management in the Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York.

Why family business? Intriguing and extremely valuable, beyond their competitive advantage, family businesses contribute to the social and economic fabric of the community in which exist, upholding a sense of trust and unfailing values.

Entrepreneurs and owners of family-led firms rightfully focus on revenue and growth of their business. Unfortunately many never learned the unique needs and strategies for multi-generational success in a family business – strategies such as a requirement that family members wanting to join the family business work, get a raise and promotion somewhere else, thereby averting concerns of nepotism, or clear roles for family members that support the growth needs of the business. This is important, for if the business does not prosper than the family will not be prosperous.


The Little Red Book of Family Business

The fundamental task of parents is to raise responsible adults who have high self-esteem and can function independently in this world,” David Bork, The Little Red Book of Family Business.

The Family Firm Institute, a professional organization for individuals involved in family businesses have a list of recommended books on family businesses. The Little Red Book of Family Business is one of them. It is a pocket-sized book of wisdom about the complex and rewarding world of family businesses.

The advice in the book was culled from the author’s 40+ years of experience working as a family business counselor, covering topics such as family-work boundaries, competence, competition, being rich, sibling relationships, and spousal roles. Each point is brief, to-the-point, insightful and sometimes humorous. Their strength is probably as a conversation-starter for an indepth dialogue with family members.

The main focus of the book is helping owners manage their families rather than their business. Interference in business decisions, double standards in employment, and succession wars can make families the worst enemies of their own businesses.

Some of the advice from Bork includes:

  • If the business does not prosper, the family will not be prosperous
  • Money is a tool, but it should never be used as a hammer
  • If the family ownership is used in marketing, then it is important for all family members to practice the values the family claims to have, and
  • Sparking solitary soul-searching- from the section on wills: “Don’t try to legislate from ‘the other side.’”

Bork’s red book doesn’t provide a solution to every problem, nor does it claim to. “This is a little book, not a big one,” he writes. But its pithy phrases provide a benchmark for determining the strengths and weaknesses of a family’s relationship with their business.

Available from Amazon and other book sellers.


When Family Issues Overflow Into the Business

In the midst of a full staff meeting Jim’s father turned to him and announced loud enough for all to hear, “You’ll never have what it takes to run this business.”

When family issues overflow into the business it hurts the business, the employees as well as all family members, jeopardizing the sustainability of the family and the business.

Family businesses provide a unique cultural and economic tapestry within our society. Planning, starting with an end in mind of how the wealth within the business and familywill transition to the next generations, creates greater well-being within thefamily from one generation to the next.

Most programs and training of business owners and entrepreneurs, however, stop with maximizing the growthof the business – short of achieving the sustainability of the family and the business.

The fact is, though, family-business Best Management Practices, which support the growth of the business, grow the estate of the shareholders, promote the health and well-being of family members, and increase family harmony, can be learned.


A New Year

Greetings. Wishing peace, joy and prosperity to you, your family and your friends. A winter solstice and the lunar eclipse of December help me recall how infinite the universe is. May you celebrate the unique gifts that you bring to the world, build a dream … so the dream will build you, and appreciate the moment … so your desires will become your future.

2010 has been a year of growth and new possibilities. I look forward to 2011 and hope you find the coming year full of many unexpected opportunities.

I am sure, by now, you’ve had enough “what are your resolutions or goals for 2011?” Seth Godin (author of business books LinchpinTribes & The Purple Cow) sent out in, his daily ezine recently with a list of his accomplishments – or as he calls it what he shipped – in 2010.

Godin stated: This might be a useful exercise. Doesn’t matter whether it was a hit or not, it just matters that you shipped it. Shipping something that scares you (and a lot of what follows did) is the entire point. [Funny, it’s actually difficult to publish a list like this… maybe that’s another reason we hesitate to ship, because we don’t want to tout too much]. … This obsession with shipping can really make things happen…… I didn’t do all this myself… far from it. Thanks to … the thousands of readers and volunteers and colleagues …. that pitched in and made these projects happen. There’s also another ten or fifteen projects that I started but couldn’t find the guts to finish or ship. If it doesn’t ship, it doesn’t count.

Godin added, “Your turn to post a list somewhere… You’ll probably be surprised at how much you accomplished last year. Go ahead and share with your friends, colleagues or the web… don’t be shy.”

And unexpectedly, in a conference call with several mentor coaches from around the country discussing purpose in the context of 2011 goals, we focused on the work of Thomas Leonard, considered by many as the father of coaching. He suggested we could be more successful seeking to attract what we want in our lives rather than pursue them as goals … it is by creating a vision of what we want and a vacuum that pulls us forward rather than goals that we strive after. A compelling vision is a product of purpose, a picture of the future, and our individual values.

We can create a vacuum by making a problem that needs a solution, for example, a promise that will be difficult to achieve. Robert Kennedy stated: I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? Oprah Winfrey created a vacuum and now is pulled forward by over 100 producers that create an arena in which she works.

Finally, Leonard stated that we could better attract what we want by surrounding ourselves with friends and colleagues who believe in our ideas, and will bring out the best in us. Leonard passed away in 2003 at the age of 47.

Best regard and wishing you a great year.