What is a Family Coach? Assisting Families in Business Reach Their Goals

August 15, 2006 9:29 am Published by

“Family coach” is a relatively new term – and a new field. There are maybe 10-20 of us in the United States. There are a lot of business consultants, and even a lot of family business consultants who assist the owners and managers of family owned businesses. But most consultants focus on the business side, because that is their professional background and area of expertise. The problem is – many of the challenges in owning and running a family owned business have to do with the family dynamics and relationships that can interfere with the business.

This week, in the Wichita Eagle’s August 12th business section, I was interviewed for an article that explains my personal journey – how I got into this field, the work I do across the country, and now my focus on doing more in my “hometown” of Wichita, Kansas. I still intend to work nationally, but more selectively – to work with those families with whom I can have the most impact. I love the people I have the opportunity to meet and serve, the fascinating and beautiful places where I get to meet the families – but traveling is also tiresome (more so all the time). So I am looking for more of a balance in my own life, as well.

A family coach, which I am, helps the family address the non-financial issues that are present in transferring wealth across generations and business succession planning. It is not family therapy – that would be disastrous (and not much fun!) Rather, a family coach helps the family members identify what their goals are for the business, for themselves, and for the family – and then develop a plan to reach those goals.

Common issues I help families with include:

*Assisting the senior generation “talk through” the important issues they face regarding business succession, wealth transfer, philanthropic giving, retirement – and help them come to agreement on how they want to approach these.

*Meeting with the family-at-large: children, spouses, grandchildren, etc. and educate them about the complexities surrounding family owned businesses, help the parents communicate their goals and desires to the family, and facilitate family meetings about important issues.

*Developing a plan to prepare the next generation family members to appropriately manage the wealth and business they will eventually be receiving.

*Career development for the next generation – whether they are in the business or not.

*Facilitating family meetings of all kinds – to decide what to do with the family lake house or condominium, to develop a plan for managing mutual investments (not the financial plan – but how to decide and communicate together), discussing what to do with the business now that dad is no longer running it, and so on.

I love helping families with these issues and find it incredibly rewarding!


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August 15, 2006 9:29 am

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