Family Business Director

Corporate Finance & Planning Insights for Multi-Generational Family Businesses


Planning & Strategy

When Is It Too Late to Plan?

Takeaways from Moore v. Commissioner

If the senior generation of your family business has not yet crafted their estate tax plan, today is the best day to start.  A new decision handed down from the Tax Court last week provides a timely reminder that the costs of procrastination can be very high.

COVID-19 Coverage

Looking Back to Look Forward

We are not economic forecasters, so we are not attempting to make any predictions about the coronavirus or its economic effects.  However, in an effort to provide some context for ourselves, this week we decided to go back and examine some data from the Great Recession.

Is Your Family Business Risky Enough?

Family business directors should carefully consider how to integrate the risk of the family business with the risk of the family as a whole. Like their publicly-traded brethren, it may turn out that some family businesses aren’t risky enough.

When Is Our Next Turning Point Breakfast?

Is Your Closely Held or Family Business at a Turning Point and Do You Need to Talk?

In this post, Chris Mercer discusses a very important breakfast he had some time ago with a client and friend who is second-generation chairman, CEO, and lead family member of a very successful, third-generation family business. That breakfast served as a turning point for him and his business and the family.

Selling Your Family Business

When M&A markets are robust, as they are now, we find that some families start to think about selling the family business. There’s a good chance that families contemplating a sale have never sold a business before, and may not know quite what to expect. In this week’s post, we provide a brief overview of the steps involved in selling a business.

Five Questions Family Business Directors Should Think About as 2020 Begins

The new year provides a natural opportunity for family business directors to think about the current condition of their family business and ponder what the future might hold.  In this first post of 2020, we identify a handful of questions that family business directors would do well to think about.

Making It Through December

While its status as a Christmas song is perhaps debatable, Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December” is classic country music at its finest.  The song captures the pathos of economic distress, with the recently-downsized protagonist lamenting his inability to provide the Christmas he wants for his daughter. Although we suspect Mr. Haggard was not writing in this direction, the song has always made Family Business Director think about breakeven analysis.  As the year draws to a close, family business directors naturally evaluate the firm’s profitability over the course of the year.  For some, profitability was assured months ago.  For others, it remains uncertain whether they will make it through December without incurring a loss for the year.

Top Ten Questions Not to Ask at Thanksgiving Dinner

For most of us, Thanksgiving is a time to disregard normal dietary restraint in the company of extended family members that one rarely sees.  For some enterprising families, however, Thanksgiving quickly devolves from a Rockwellian family gathering to a Costanza-style airing of grievances.  So, in the holiday spirit, we offer this list of the top ten questions not to ask at Thanksgiving dinner.  If you have trouble distinguishing between the board room and the dining room, this list is for you.

Lessons for the Long Haul

While public companies are planning for the next quarter, successful family businesses are planning for the next decade.  While private equity firms anticipate exit, successful family businesses anticipate transitioning to the leadership of the next generation.  A recent profile in the New York Times of Rumiano Cheese provides a great example of how family businesses persist and endure over generations.  Rumiano Cheese is celebrating its centenary this year, and the company’s story provides some great reminders for all family businesses that are in it for the long haul.

Questioning Your Family Business Balance Sheet

If the income statement is a movie that records how your family business performed during a particular period, the balance sheet is a snapshot that records what your family business looked like at a particular date. The balance sheet answers two core questions: “What are the assets our family business owns?” and “How has our family business paid for those assets?”
We’ll flesh out the first question in this week’s post, and turn our attention to the second question in a subsequent post.

Is Your Family Business Ready for the Next Recession?

Now is the best time to think about how your family business is positioned for the next recession, whenever it comes.  In this post, we review some ways family business directors can prepare their companies to survive (and perhaps even thrive during) the next recession.

AutoZone Provides Roadmap for Management Succession

The Founder’s Exit Doesn’t Need to Be the End of the Story for Shareholders

Management transition is a sensitive topic for many family businesses.  Founders of successful family enterprises are by definition exceptional individuals.  The challenge for family business directors is ensuring that the unique attributes of key managers contribute to the sustainability of the family enterprise instead of crippling the business through unhealthy over-reliance or dependence on a single individual. Pitt Hyde’s (AutoZone founder and long-time director) recently announced transition highlights three lessons for family business directors and managers.

Consulting Services

Family Business Advisory Services

Mercer Capital provides financial education services and other strategic financial consulting to family businesses