RSG 2023 Summer Series
Key Questions for Family Business Leaders
For the summer months, we have developed a weekly series using the Socratic method to help family business leaders think about ways to make their companies more sustainable, profitable and competitive. Check back each week for the latest question. Enjoy!
Week 13: A Few Final Thoughts (8.23.23)
To wrap up our RSG summer Socratic series for family business leaders, Greg shares (by video) a few thoughts on the series and closing remarks. Enjoy and thank you to those of you who have followed along each week. Good luck getting out of the gate this fall!
Week 12 Question: Community Relationships (8.17.23)
For our penultimate post (Week 12) in our summer Socratic series, we ask family business leaders to think about their "community" relationships.
While you are focused on driving forward your company's mission(s), in what ways does your family business like to give back to your community? Think about the synergies that may already exist here (e.g., we are an important local employer, we provide an important local service). How might you strengthen existing community ties or possibly create new ties?
And just for a bit of summer fun, I thought I would share an experience from my own past charity work. The image below shows when I had the privilege of joining the Parkinson's Foundation to ring the bell on the New York Stock Exchange, due to my involvement with the Foundation at the time. I look forward to finding new ways to give back through RSG and personally for many years to come!
Week 11 Question: Revenue Streams (8.10.23)
For Week 11 of our summer Socratic series, we ask family business leaders a few questions about their revenue streams.
Think about your various product or service-based revenue streams and whether each is growing, shrinking or is relatively stable. What accounts for each product or service's current revenue trajectory? Maybe its external factors such as evolving markets, competitive factors or customer preferences. Or maybe its internal factors such as product/service quality, capacity considerations or go-to-market strategy (e.g., effectiveness of sales and marketing, pricing).
If your goal is to increase revenue for the family business, what existing revenue stream(s) would you focus on and why? Maybe one is more profitable, scalable or is less resource-intensive (i.e., less costly). Alternatively, what new products or services - whether completely new or "bolt-on" offerings - would help the company adapt and meet your revenue growth targets. And finally, would the company benefit from sunsetting any of your current products or services so your resources are better aligned with tomorrow?
Week 10 Question: Operational Expense Management (8.2.23)
For Week 10 of our RSG summer question series, we ask family business leaders a few questions related to operational expense management.
Are there ways that you could "tighten up" how you manage your direct expenses (i.e., COGS) or operating expenses (i.e., SG&A)? Do you have mechanisms in place to review expenses continuously (e.g., monthly, weekly) and to make adjustments that can further optimize your business? Also, how do you review expenses during periodic planning, whether quarterly, annually, etc.?
Week 9 Question: Definition of a "Family Business" (7.26.23)
For Week 9 of our RSG summer question series, we explore the definition of a "family business."
Would you consider your company to be a "family business"? Sure, if you lead a multi-generational closely-held business it fits nicely into the definition. But what if you founded your own company where your family has exclusive (or nearly full) ownership? I'll bet your business decisions often carry a heavy personal weight. Through this lens many founders believe that they run a family business, and I would agree with this interpretation. What do you think?
Week 8 Poll: Technology (7.19.23)
For Week 8 of our Summer Question Series, let's have a little fun. Below we ask family business leaders (both founders and multi-generational) about technology spend priorities over the coming year. Thank you for your responses!
If I could only invest in one primary area of technology over the next year for my business, it would be?
(a) Efficiency / Productivity Tools
(b) Analytics Tools
(c) Sales & Marketing Tools
Week 7 Question: Company Culture (7.12.23)
For Week 7 of our RSG summer question series, we ask family business leaders to consider company culture in relation to effective execution. Enjoy.
Assume for a second you have a solid strategic and operational planning process, key metrics and targets, and the right capabilities (in place or accessible) to implement your planning. Next, think about how well your family business can execute today against your objectives. How does your company culture fit into the picture? Would you consider it a driving force behind effective execution? Is your company culture healthy today or how might you effectively improve upon?
Finally, what words come to mind when you think about a healthy company culture?
Week 6 Question: Free Cash Flow (7.5.23)
For Week 6 of our RSG summer question series, we shift focus to the financial health of your family business with a few questions on cash flow.
In monitoring the health of your family business, how much emphasis do you put on your free cash flow? What variables ultimately drive your cash flow and what levers might you pull to further improve your Free Cash Flow to the Firm (FCFF)?
Great Summary of Free Cash Flow:
Sandeep Chennakeshu provides a great summary in his book 'Your Company Is Your Castle' - "In summary, free cash flow is a measure of financial fitness because if funds day-to-day operations, gives investors the confidence to lend to the company, enables the company to pay interest on money borrowed, helps the company to weather periods of uncertainty, and allows for investments that help the company grow."
Week 5 Question: Family Dynamics (6.27.23)
As we head into the July 4th holiday, this is a great week to ask family business leaders a few questions about family dynamics. Enjoy Week #5 of our summer question series and Happy Fourth ahead!
First, do you consider yourself a family business? Maybe you started your own business, and your family knows all-too-well the blurred lines that can exist at the intersection of family and business. On the other hand, maybe you are the 5th generation steward of your family business, bearing the heavy responsibility for its ongoing legacy.
Second, would you consider being a "family business" a competitive advantage, disadvantage or possibly irrelevant? What factors contribute to this outlook? How could you further take advantage of your "family business" status - maybe your nimbleness - or better manage family dynamics to improve your culture and competitive positioning?
Week 4 Question: Value Proposition (6.21.23)
How would you describe your company's value proposition? Said another way, what combination of attributes and capabilities makes your family business uniquely competitive? Has this value proposition withstood the test of time? How might you adapt to account for changing consumer preferences, competitor moves and/or evolving market dynamics?
Week 3 Question: Alignment (6.14.23)
Are your business operations properly aligned with your intended mission and strategic goals? Are there ways that you might improve your "operating model" to more effectively execute on your mission/goals? What does "effective execution" mean to you?
Week 2 Question: Priority Setting (6.7.23)
As you look for ways to further improve your family business, what are your top priorities right now? Do you have priorities for both the "big picture" and for improving your "day-to-day"? How do you choose what becomes a priority?
Week 1 Question: Business Sustainability (6.1.23)
Would you consider your family business sustainable, longer-term? What areas of the business come to mind when you think of ways you might improve sustainability? Consider here your mission & goals for the business, potential family dynamics (if applicable), and the company's current internal capabilities, competitive positioning and evolving markets.