FAQ/Why use a family business consultant?

What is a family business consultant?

A family business consultant helps families work through issues such as succession planning, conflict resolution and communication problems.  Consultants who work with family firms come from a wide variety of professions such as law, psychology, management science or financial planning.  Therefore, each consultant takes on a slightly different approach in doing his/her work.  Some consultants operate as individual specialists who provide focused consultation on a presumably well-defined problem.  For example, tax and estate-planning specialists would fit this category.  These professionals may not even call themselves ‘family business consultants.’  For some issues, this may be the fastest and most efficient way to resolve a specific problem.  But the disadvantages are that individual specialists may make assumptions in their approach that are incorrect in the family business environment.  An intervention in one subsystem may have unintended consequences in another. 

Another type of consultant is the individual generalist.  These professionals are more likely to call themselves ‘family business consultants.’  They understand that family businesses are uniquely complex and have the training to tackle most of the problematic issues that arise in family business such as succession, conflict and communication problems.  These consultants may have been educated in management but they also may have had training in family dynamics; or they may be clinically trained, with extensive practical experience in business settings.

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We already have a set of advisors in place whom we trust, we don’t need anymore.

Advisors who are not sensitive to family dynamics can often do more harm than good.  A family-based firm needs an advisory team that is grounded in systems theory and understands the emotional component frequently found in the family business environment.”

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What is systems theory?

Systems theory dictates that every event is interdependent with all other events; that changing one part of a system will change the entire system.  Further, that a minor change in one system can trigger dramatic changes in any other system of which it is a smaller part. 

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"I’m too busy running the company" or "If it ain't broke don't fix it"

Given that only about a third of family businesses survive into the second generation and only 12 percent will survive into the third generation it is quite possible that having an on-going plan in place to manage the risk of generational failure could be one of your most important jobs as a family business leader. 

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We are closely-held and very private and want to keep it that way – we don’t want someone from the outside asking a bunch of questions and getting things all stirred up.

Consultants who work with families appreciate the sensitive nature of the client/consultant relationship and go to great lengths to protect confidentiality.  The Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) promulgates an ethical code of conduct that each of its members must abide by.  In addition, discussions between client and consultant are always bound under a “non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement” that is executed prior to initiating any new engagement. 

Trust is the most valuable commodity a consultant possesses and therefore no client should ever engage with an advisor/consultant that is not well trusted.

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Why Box Family Advisors

Our objective is to ensure the transition of the business from one generation to the next... | more

How You Benefit

Perhaps the biggest challenge that family-owned businesses face is generational continuity... | more

Families in business together need a sophisticated and experienced veteran of family business who understands not only the basics of family business but also the nuances. I come to this area of practice from a ‘been there – done that’ perspective. I understand the intricacies of family business because that is where I came from and that is who I am.

Douglas D Box, Family Business Advisor