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Kathy Marshack News

How to Foster Stewardship in Your Family Business

Monday, October 16, 2017


Family businesses, like the families who run them, go through various stages of development, ultimately reaching the “stewardship” stage.Why did you start your family business? Or why did you choose to carry on the legacy of generations before you? Have your goals and motivations changed and developed over the years?

Your business, like the family that runs it, also goes through different stages of development. There are three stages of growth for a family business:

  1. Entrepreneurship. This is the stage of early innovations, niche formation, and creativity. Long hours, endless enthusiasm, and determination make for a dynamic environment.
  2. Ownership. There is a need for stability and security to nurture the family. During this stage, the family business structure becomes more formalized and institutionalized.
  3. Stewardship. This offers the family business the opportunity to give something back to the community. At this point, employees and family members, especially those in line to take over the business, feel an intrinsic commitment to the success and reputation of the firm. Stewards of the family business nurture it so it endures and grows, and know enough about the company and its strategies to make good decisions.

Entrepreneurs who start a family business want and expect their business to reach the ownership stage. It’s a sign of success and accomplishment. But as the business grows, it’s beneficial to look forward and reach for the stewardship stage as well. Why?

Family-owned firms are influential in the community. How the family manages its wealth and influence can have a major impact on society. You must go beyond simple economic theory to understand this influence. The values of the family and the culture of the family business can have a tremendous social impact, not only on the quality of commerce but on the community as a whole.

Also, when family members and employees are motivated from the inside out to see the business succeed, they are happier workers. Happier workers are more productive workers. It benefits the business to employ persons who are invested in the company personally.

A sense of stewardship is also necessary when planning for succession in the family business. Succession planning typically focusing on selecting good management, but the development of strong owners is critical. Without a culture of stewardship, good management can be sabotaged by entitled owners. Entitlement leads to passiveness about how the company is run and managed and an unwillingness to reinvest in new initiatives.

Through successful stewardship, your family business can build a strong legacy. So how can you foster stewardship in your family business? Here are some ideas:

  • Set the course. Make sure everyone involved knows their purpose and their part in the business achieving success.

  • Create a collectivist culture. Ideas are welcome. Teamwork is a must. No one is in this alone. Encourage constructive criticism.

  • Insist on clarity, transparency, and consistency. Model these qualities for your family and employees.

  • Focus on both short-term and long-term success. Show the need for consistency between short-term actions and long-term goals.

  • Build infrastructure for the future. This can include employee retirement plans or bonuses.

  • Give back to the community. Some family businesses start a charitable foundation. Others donate time or resources to help. Look for ways to give back.

Just as with legal and financial decisions, the emotional or psychological aspects of planning for the future of your business often requires the assistance of a professional. I have worked with many families in business as they grow and move into the stewardship stage. Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach or take advantage of online therapy.

Entrepreneurs – Nurture Your Creativity Even If You’re Not “Creative”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Nurture Your Creativity Even If You’re Not “Creative” How would you describe the creative process? Difficult, isn’t it? The very concept of creativity, coming up with something innovative and original, makes something as structured as a “process” sound counterintuitive.

Perhaps you don't feel like you’re very creative. Maybe you see yourself as the practical problem-solver, the roll-up-your-sleeves kind of person…

The thing is you don’t have to be an eccentric or an artist in order to be creative. And as a business owner, it would be a mistake to assign the task of creativity to others because of a perceived lack of creativity on your part. What if all it took was hard work, determination and time?

You are probably more creative than you give yourself credit. Creativity is at the foundation of entrepreneurship. The ability of an entrepreneur to generate new ideas that have practical, real-world application is the foundation of countless business start-ups.

Being a creative entrepreneur goes beyond just creating new products and ideas. Even in you work in a family business that has been providing the same products or services for generations, you still need to be creative. A person with a flexible, creative mind is also going to be adept at improving current products, services and systems. You can be on the lookout for new and different ways to improve your business. Perhaps your contribution to the family business could be finding a new niche or effectively utilizing an existing one.

Creativity when linked with entrepreneurship requires more than just an interesting idea. There are a lot of good ideas out there, but if you want to build a successful business you need a process that will allow you to support and properly execute that idea.

How can you enhance your creative process?

Schedule time to be creative. Instead of waiting for creativity to magically appear, choose a problem, challenge, or goal you want to tackle and give yourself a deadline. Then schedule time in your calendar to work on it, using the following suggestions.

Identify and learn about your subject.
Understanding your topic will contribute to your ability to think creatively about it. Thinking creatively involves looking at your “problem” from multiple angles, considering all of the ins and outs. Be willing to look at the situation without previous bias. Also, look for examples of success that you can learn from, whether in your industry or outside of it.

Think from a new perspective. This is the step in which your new idea starts to take shape. Be willing to go out of your comfort zone during this step. Find a new approach to your task without limiting yourself. Allow yourself free reign of thought, don’t “edit” yourself, since that only hinders your creative process. At this point there are no stupid ideas!

Let your subconscious mind go to work.
Now begins the “mulling” stage. Let your idea sit for a while, allowing your subconscious to continue working on the problem. Surprisingly, this is often one of the most important stages of a creative process. You will often return with a fresh perspective, ready to continue.

Problem solve.
During this stage you are working on making your idea practical. It’s once again important that you don’t limit yourself, but this is the stage where you start streamlining your idea into a more workable package. This is where you start thinking about your idea as something that could actually be implemented.

Think critically. Now is the time to edit yourself. Look at the problem and your solution, and assess its viability. Ask someone whose opinion you value to try to find holes in your solution. Because you may be emotionally attached to idea, it can be difficult to critique it on your own without bias.

Critical thinking is the end of your creative process, now it is time to implement any viable ideas left. Once again you don’t have to be especially “creative” to implement this process, all you have to do is show up.

What if you have a tangled problem and the more you think about it the more stuck you feel? You might benefit from a session with a therapist. As surprising as it may sound, I’ve had many business epiphanies occur in my office over the years. Please contact my office to set up an appointment. I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we can meet in person or I offer online therapy for those residing in Oregon or Washington states if that is more convenient for you.



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