Tips for Running a Family Biz

Rincker Law Business/Commercial Law, Family/Matrimonial Law, Food & Ag Law Leave a Comment


I was having my “Miracle Morning” this morning and catching up on the the news.  I came this article in USA Today by Rhonda Abrams titled “8 Keys to Running a Family Business.”  When I hear “family business,” I cannot help but think about multi-generational food and agriculture businesses.  Here are Rhonda’s tips:

  1. Decides who does which job.  Like a good baseball team, everyone has a roll.  The article suggests even giving family members job titles and a job description.  I like it!
  2. Make sure everyone works.  This usually isn’t an issue for farm families cuz… you know.  Farm and ranch families know how to roll up their sleeves and get to work.  But office jobs in a food and agriculture operation are equally important.  Make sure nobody flies under the radar and everyone is pulling their own weight.
  3. Put it in writing.  Preach!  I like this girl already.  The food and agriculture industry is notorious for oral agreements and handshake deals; as you can imagine, it is rare for multi-generational farm families to have their agreements memorialized.  Not only can contracts prevent conflict later but it can ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  4. Decide how you’ll make decisions.  It’s important to understand how the decisions will be make and this process can vary depending on the business structure.  Think this through and run this past your food or farm lawyer to make sure your organizational documents are accurate.
  5. Conduct performance reviews.  Uh!  I hate performance reviews!  But they can be helpful teaching tools for family-member employees.  The article suggests that these reviews should be objective, constructive and professional.
  6. Keep family dynamics out of the workplace.  Leave the sibling rivalry for later on and children should be respectful of their parents on the farm, ranch or food business like any boss.
  7. Work towards the best but plan for the worst.  I’m talking about the Big D and I don’t mean Dallas.  Multi-generational farm/ranch and food business families are especially susceptible to divorce and destruction.  I love prenups (read why they are romantic here).
  8. Come up with a succession plan. Yaaass girl!  I have been preaching this mantra for a decade now.  Remember:  estate planning and succession planning are different things.  Estate planning includes those fancy documents like a Last Will and Testament and a Revocable Living Trust that lawyers like me create; however, a succession plan focuses more about how you are transitioning the management and ownership from one generation to the next.
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