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9781477266939_COVER.inddPART 1 – Tuesday, December 4th, Dave Franzetta, co-author of Changing Places, talked with talk radio host, Michael Dresser, on the Michael Dresser Show, broadcast on CRN Digital Talk Radio. This is Part 1 of a 5-part edited version of the radio interview.

MICHAEL:  David Franzetta is our guest today to talk about his book, Changing Places: Making A Success Of Succession Planning For Entrepreneurs and Family Business Owners. David is theChief Advisor at Designed Outcomes, which specializes in resolving business problems, especially in the area of transition/succession planning for small businesses. David, welcome to the show.

DAVE:  Thanks, Michael, it’s a pleasure to be here.

MICHAEL: I hope I don’t have to repeat the title of your book 10 times in a row, fast. I’d be in big trouble.

DAVE:  Yes, we could have picked a shorter title for the book; it’s quite mouthful.

MICHAEL:  But I love it. What it all comes down to, David, especially in this world where it’s not so much a troubling economy but a confusing economy–businesses are struggling to stay open. But there is also the other side of that. Some people will be left out of major companies, when big companies outsource, and these people are starting up their own businesses, and families also are beginning businesses– that’s really what we’re talking about. The big question that I see is, what is the one thing that business owners should be doing up front to ensure success?

DAVE: For most businesses, the biggest issue that they run into when they are getting started is they simply don’t have access to enough cash, right up front, to keep things going long enough to get a foothold into whatever industry or market they’re trying to break into. They’re running things on a shoestring, and so much so that just getting into the game is a problem for them.

MICHAEL: Sure, what it really comes down to is getting a hold of cash. Now, there is tons cash out there, no question about that, but investors are holding onto it more than they did 5 or 10 years ago. Obviously if you just say to somebody, “I want some money,” it’s not going to work. But what about creating the business plan, the projections, and letting bankers and potential investors know what kind of people are working in the business, and the expertise that you have to handle the different facets of the business– does this make the difference?

DAVE: Yes, Michael, you hit the it straight on. For small businesses, what’s really important is who, exactly, are the people working in the business? In most cases, investors are looking to place a bet on people. People who are likely to come across the finish line– win, place or show– so they can cash in on their bet. They’re making a bet on the right people.  So, when you start a business, you want to be in an industry or a market where you have a very good chance of succeeding. And then you want to surround yourself with people who fill in whatever gaps you might have in your own skill set. That is critically important.

To be continued…stay tuned for Part 2 in the next post.

Dave Franzetta and Moss Jackson pen new action planning guide, Changing Places, for small business owners facing the conflict of generational leadership change.

Check it out: “Changing Places: Making a Success of Succession Planning for Entrepreneurs and Family Business Owners”(published by AuthorHouse). Feedback please to: dfranzetta@gmail.com

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In our consultancy practice, Designed Outcomes, Moss and I have found it vital to deal with the emotional aspects alongside the financial aspects of an owner leaving the business. That’s why we take a holistic approach to assessing the business’s readiness for succession and transition. Until we deal with the owner’s psychological readiness to leave the business (or not), only then can we build a strong foundation for the transition process.

When we wrote our book, Changing Places, we decided to use real life stories from our practice to exemplify both the potential problems faced by business owners and the practical solutions they have adopted. Family business transitions can get particularly tricky, fraught with a number of challenging emotional and sensitive family issues, often long buried and difficult to discuss.

Ignoring these issues rarely helps, so the only path to progress is to carefully dig into the details and go right to the heart of the situation. It can take a lot of work to fully understand the roles of both the parent and the children in the business.

However, not all family businesses are as fraught with complications. We worked with one family-owned business where the generational transition was relatively straightforward. It’s one of my favorite stories, Stephen and Jack’s, from Chapter 7:

Family Considerations–Emotional Readiness

Stephen was an only son and had taken over the business from his father more than 25 years before. Stephen had one child, Jack. Jack had never indicated an interest in doing anything other than working with his dad, and someday taking over the business from him.

Over a period of almost twenty years, Stephen groomed his son Jack as his successor, giving him ever-greater responsibilities inside the company. Whenever Stephen might decide he was ready to retire, Jack would be ready to take over.

The only problem was that Stephen never seemed to want to retire, and Jack was left feeling impatient, with no change in sight. The key to resolving this situation was finding a safe way to allow Stephen and Jack to deal with the “elephant in the room.” 

Once the father and son were able to talk about their personal needs and apparent frustrations, it was relatively easy for them to lay out the necessary steps for an orderly transition.

The key to success in this area is to help the owner define his new post-transition role. Perhaps While everything doesn’t have to be spelled out in black and white, issues have to be resolved to everyone’s general satisfaction.

Even if you can’t imagine retiring, there are many reasons to get started without delay. Changes in your family situation can be unpredictable. Without a thoughtful succession and transition plan, you could easily find yourself behind the proverbial eight ball, looking at an uncertain future.

Check it out: “Changing Places: Making a Success of Succession Planning for Entrepreneurs and Family Business Owners” (published by AuthorHouse). Feedback please to: dfranzetta@gmail.com

Dave Franzetta and Moss Jackson pen new action planning guide, Changing Placesfor small business owners facing the conflict of generational leadership change.

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Whether you like it or not, the future has a way of sneaking up on you. At some point you are going to be changing places. You will stop going to the office every day, and someone else will take over for you. You will find different ways to enjoy yourself, maybe even crossing items off of your personal bucket list.

In our book, Changing Places, Moss and I used true stories from our practice to bring to life both the potential problems faced by business owners and the practical solutions they have adopted. These “war stories” are my favorite parts of the book.

Chapter 4 has a great one. Here is Peter and Anne’s story.

Personal Goals

One of our clients, Peter, heard about the work I was doing in the areas of leadership development and succession planning, and called to see if I could help him with succession in his business. In preparation for their first meeting, I sent Peter a list of questions to stimulate his thinking about succession planning and give him an idea of the scope of the topics we would discuss. Since a number of the questions dealt with personal issues that transcend the operation of the business, Peter thought it would be a good idea to share the questions with his wife Anne.

 Anne read over the questions and suggested they both talk with me. “I want to be sure he knows where I stand on some of these issues,” she said. And that’s exactly what they did. Their very first meeting was a three-hour session, conducted over dinner in a private room at Peter’s club.

Making Choices

Anne began by explaining to me that Peter had a number of personal interests outside of his work. He had a strong spiritual side to his life, but he often passed up his Bible study group to take care of things at the office. Peter was a member at a wonderful country club, yet he only got out to play golf once a month or so, again because he chose to spend his time dealing with issues at work.

Anne then talked about their lovely second home in Palm Desert, which they used only a few weeks a year. She wanted to spend more time there but Peter, you guessed it,“couldn’t afford to take time away from the office.”

Anne’s concern was obvious. Peter was so devoted to his business, that whenever he had to choose between the business and doing something purely for himself, he inevitably favored the business. If he didn’t change that pattern of behavior, Peter would never be able to make the transition to a life where he could enjoy the fruits of his labor.

I asked Peter to visualize, in as much detail as possible, what a typical week in “retirement” might be like. Peter indicated he’d like to get to the gym several mornings a week. And if he could meet his Bible study group for breakfast every Tuesday, that would also be terrific. Golf at the club every Wednesday would help him lower his handicap as well as make some new Friends. And, of course, a few extended stays at the vacation home every year would be an essential part of the mix. Put that all together and they would both be happier.

Ready to Let Go?

Then I asked a tough question: “What is keeping you from doing all of these things right now, starting tomorrow?” Anne pounced on that one, “If I‘ve asked him that question once, I’ve asked it a thousand times,” she said.

It took a bit more probing to get to the core of the matter: Peter enjoyed his work, he wasn’t ready to give it up, and with the right kind of ongoing management support he could confidently turn over the reins, but not just yet.

Both Peter and Anne were clearheaded about one thing. As Peter said, “This company is our pension plan. We either sell it for a good price, or we need to have good managers earning a solid return, so we can live off of our share of the profits.”

By the time we all said goodnight, Peter and Anne still had a lot to think about. The most important thing to come out of the conversation was the realization that Peter and Anne had different visions about what Peter’s “retirement” from the business might mean. Peter and Anne’s succession and transition planning story has yet to be completed, but they are off to a strong start.

We have found Peter and Anne’s situation to be fairly typical. The spouse frequently anticipates a fairly clean break from the business, while the founder or current leader usually has a great deal of difficulty letting go of the reins. And, when faced with the many issues of concern, they appear to not be ready to discuss the issues.

Like Peter, you get to call the shots as the owner of your business. There may be a number of things you want to accomplish in your life, and they may not always be perfectly aligned and consistent with your spouse. Make sure you are both on the same page as to what is really important in the future for both of you. 

Whatever your choice, it won’t simply happen by itself. You have to take charge and lay out the necessary action plans. This is your life and your journey. Think about what kind of future you want to make for yourself and your company, and start planning for it.

Don’t take a chance and leave it to chance.

Check it out: “Changing Places: Making a Success of Succession Planning for Entrepreneurs and Family Business Owners” (published by AuthorHouse). Feedback please to: dfranzetta@gmail.com

Dave Franzetta and Moss Jackson pen new action planning guide, Changing Placesfor small business owners facing the conflict of generational leadership change.

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If you are like every other entrepreneurial business founder and owner, you are hoping to create a successful future, both for yourself and your loved ones, as well as for the next generation of leaders of your company (who in some cases might be your own children). Unfortunately, many entrepreneurial businesses—and most family-owned and run entrepreneurial businesses—fail to successfully navigate the succession and transition process. Only one in four such businesses makes a successful transition to the second generation, the others failing or being sold before the children of the founders get a chance to take over. Of those that do last to the second generation, only one in three makes a successful transition to the third generation. These are not encouraging statistics.

In our book, Changing Places, Moss and I used some helpful narrative examples from our practice to bring to life both the potential problems faced by business owners and the practical solutions they have adopted. These “war stories” are my favorite parts of the book.

Chapter 3 has 2 great stories. Here is Delores and Marty’s.

Your Transition Advisory Team–Informal Boards

In some situations a formal “board” is not necessary. Dolores and her brother Marty worked on and off for the company their father Anthony had started 50 years ago. Their grandfather and great-uncle had also worked in the company, and now their uncle worked there too. It had always been Anthony’s wish that Dolores and Marty would someday come back and take over.

At the time of writing, Dolores was in the process of buying out the majority of company, and Anthony was also transferring portions to both Dolores and Marty. Though Dolores and Marty were away for as much as twenty years working in other industries, both are now back and ready to let their dad take it easy.

They look for advice from their vendors, accountant, banker and Dolores’ father-in-law, a successful businessman who is now retired. While Dolores and Marty had never thought of them as their “board”, they serve the function admirably.

Their banker invites them to his box at local professional sports events, where they meet many other small business owners in the area. They have also found that attending those events has been a great way to network and discuss what works and doesn’t work for different businesses. It also allows their sons, who have an interest in joining the company, to meet other small business owners.

Every story in the book paints a vivid picture of what to do and don’t do. I’ll have another story waiting for you in the next post.

Check it out: “Changing Places: Making a Success of Succession Planning for Entrepreneurs and Family Business Owners” (published by AuthorHouse). Feedback please to: dfranzetta@gmail.com

Dave Franzetta and Moss Jackson pen new action planning guide, Changing Places for small business owners facing the conflict of generational leadership change.

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Why are we here in the first place? Oh yes, the book.

Since every company has its own idiosyncrasies, Changing Places helps the business owner figure out how to think about succession and transition planning in ways that fit their own specific situation. Moss and I used lively narrative examples from our practice to bring to life both the potential problems faced by business owners and the practical solutions they have adopted. These “war stories” are my favorite parts of the book.  They bring it to life and make it real. Every business owner can identify.

Here’s a good one from Chapter 3. Your Transition Advisory Team

Support Through Difficult Transitions

We know of one situation where the father, Jeffrey, started his company as a “family business” at age forty-six. Jeffrey didn’t need the money from the start. He enjoyed the risk and excitement that resulted from making big business decisions and relished the personal attention he attracted as a business leader. 

Jeffrey encouraged his eldest son Steven to take business and accounting classes in college, so he could be useful in the business as soon as he graduated. Jeffrey also brought his daughter Catherine and his other son Mark into the business, even though they had limited business skills. Jeffrey never worried about retirement because he never planned to retire (much to his wife Shirley’s chagrin). When he died at age sixty-nine, it was “with his boots on.”

During his lifetime, Jeffrey was the personification of the business, and wielded his business power ruthlessly within the family. His passing was followed by a six-year long, acrimonious period that included a legal battle over valuation of the business, culminating with Steven buying out his siblings.

During the process Steven learned to value the advice and encouragement of an excellent quasi-board of directors he had cultivated. Steven had to work very hard diversifying the business and increasing sales. He found that developing and maintaining strong banking relations was critical. Steven found that his business plans required him to invest more personal money in the business.

His advisors kept him on track during this difficult period. They critically assessed his expansion plans and helped him find ways to reduce both the required capital and the initial risks of the expansion. When he needed to hire a new sales manager, referrals from his advisory board brought him several top-notch candidates. These are only two of many examples where the advisory board helped Steven‘s business grow and prosper.

As a postscript to this story, Steven recently finished the buyout payments to Catherine and Mark and he now says that though he is very busy, he is happy as can be. (Steven’s wife, Linda, on the other hand, is not so thrilled, because he is not around much and won’t take vacations. Like father, like son…)

Now, just curl up in your blankee. I’ll have another story for you in the next post.

Check it out: “Changing Places: Making a Success of Succession Planning for Entrepreneurs and Family Business Owners” (published by AuthorHouse). Feedback please to: dfranzetta@gmail.com

Dave Franzetta and Moss Jackson pen new action planning guide, Changing Places,for small business owners facing the conflict of generational leadership change.

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When did we publish Changing Places? Only a few weeks ago, right? So now it’s time to brace myself, sinister music goes here, for the book reviews. Many writers simply will not look at them. Some ego-tripping writer once said something like “Those who want to be writers of books read book reviews, the writers of books don’t.” What, grandly dismiss them all? Well, sorry, I find that level of arrogance appalling. That’s not who I am. I’m too short to look down my nose at anyone!

So I guess I’ll read the darn reviews. But I’ll have to be honest, the mere thought of reading the first one gives me the willies. So what am I afraid of? In our consulting practice, Designed Outcomes, we welcome any kind of feedback, good or bad, with open arms. Why can’t I be just as open-minded when it comes to the book? After all, a book review is nothing more than feedback. Negative or positive, I’ll face it head on. And yet, somewhere deep inside, I need that very first review to be a really good one. Sorry to say, that’s the only way I’ll get rid of the willies.

Hold on, I think I know exactly where to look to find that positive review. It’s so obvious. To like the book you must read the book. But first you have to buy it.  Hey, we printed it in paperback, it’s not expensive. I bet I can find someone who bought the book and then posted a Customer Review on my publisher’s website, www.AuthorHouse.com

And much to my relief, I found this little gem:

“This is the best book I didn’t know I needed.
Thank you for a wonderful look into what I need to do now to make the end result something I can call a success.”

            Loretta Martin

Short and sweet, I love it! And she gave it five stars.

Thank you, Loretta.

I’ll leave all of you with this. Book reviews are feedback. I thrive on feedback. So whenever you can, please give it!

Check it out: “Changing Places: Making a Success of Succession Planning for Entrepreneurs and Family Business Owners” (published by AuthorHouse). Feedback please to: dfranzetta@gmail.com

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POST INTERVIEW – On Tuesday, October 23rd, Dave Franzetta, co-author of Changing Places, talked with radio host, Stu Taylor, on Money Maters Radio, broadcast out of WBNW in Boston. This is Dave’s recap of the radio interview after its conclusion.

DAVE: Actually I thought the interview went very well. Stu Taylor is really a great guy with an incredible wealth of business knowledge. I was flattered he had actually read our book, Changing Place. He was genuinely intrigued by it, which helped, because he asked me some really smart questions. So, good interview, let’s not belabor it. Except for one thing. We left something out! You see, the interview was on Tuesday, the morning after the last Obama/Romney presidential “great debate,” and of course we had to talk about it a little. However, for the sake of brevity, we edited those comments out for the blog. But now I’m thinking it was kind of cool how I weaseled out of taking any sides politically! So I’ll share it now:

STU: So I’ve got to ask, what if you had written Changing Places during more affluent economic times? This economy was sure the main issue last night…

DAVE: Well sure. We all listened to the debate last night I think and we heard Governor Romney and President Obama both talking about the importance of small businesses as the engine for job creation and economic growth. Well, this is the point when the moderator, Bob Schieffer, should have said, You’re both right!

Ok, that’s it with that. I’m off to plug the book at the next stop. They say going on “Book Tour” is a necessary evil. I don’t know. I rather enjoy it.

Check it out: “Changing Places: Making a Success of Succession Planning for Entrepreneurs and Family Business Owners”(published by AuthorHouse). Feedback please to: dfranzetta@gmail.com

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PART 4 – Tuesday, October 23rd, Dave Franzetta, co-author of Changing Places, talked with radio host, Stu Taylor, on Money Maters Radio, broadcast out of WBNW in Boston. This is Part 4, the conclusion of an edited version of the radio interview.

STU: We continue with Dave Franzetta. It’s always a decision whether a business is valuable to continue or for whether, for whatever reasons, that only certain individuals are capable of running it. Or for personal or business reasons they don’t want the business to continue. Assuming there is a transition to a new, is there a formula as to whether the individual selling the business should stay on through the transition stage and remain in some capacity, in a position to make sure things are going well? Is there a formula for that?

DAVE: The only rule that would really apply in a situation like that is you’ve got to have strong leadership on the ground ready to take over whenever any kind of a change takes place. So if you’re a business owner and you have strong second tier leadership that you’ve developed over the years, you can sell your company and leave with confidence. And the buyer would also have confidence that management and leadership that stays behind will be successful.  What happens all too often when someone builds a company and wants to sell it with confidence. But the buyer comes along and looks at the situation and says, whoa, I have to put strong management in place and they will require the owner to stay on for a period of time, either in a senior consulting role or management to keep things alive until new leadership can be in place.

STU: I really like what you did in the book, at the end of every chapter you’ve got questions that allow the reader to utilize introspection and help get a thought process going as to the content of each chapter.  I think that is really important and thought it was worth mentioning.

DAVE: That’s interesting, Stu. That was the genesis of the book. We had prepared guides for our clients considering succession or exit planning and the guides were in the form of questions.  Then we started to sort and categorize questions, and it became obvious to us that they were clustered around really important topics.  So we tried to write our chapters with stories, little narratives from our practice that illustrate either particularly good or really bad cases of planning for succession.  We set each chapter as if it was a small meditation on the subject.  We really ask our readers to read a chapter and reflect on it.  Questions we ask are not generic. They are for you specifically.

STU: Thank you, Dave Franzetta. It’s a really important book. Published by AuthorHouse in paperback. Thanks so much for joining us, David.

DAVE: It’s been a real pleasure, Stu. Thank you very much.

Check it out: “Changing Places: Making a Success of Succession Planning for Entrepreneurs and Family Business Owners”(published by AuthorHouse). Feedback please to: dfranzetta@gmail.com

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