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Kathy Marshack News

Promote Fair Compensation for Women in Family Firms

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Women in family businesses are often the backbone of the organization. Whether she’s the founder, a founding partner, a supportive spouse or daughter, or an employee of the family enterprise, a woman often is willing to do work that others feel is beneath them because she recognizes the greater good. Research has shown that when a man starts a business, he usually can count on his wife’s unpaid labor during those lean start-up years. Women entrepreneurs, on the other hand, realize that they must go it alone if their businesses are to succeed. They too use the services of family and friends in those early years, but often their husbands don’t offer unpaid help with such menial chores as housework, child care or envelope stuffing.   


As a stakeholder or a stockholder, a family business woman should be accorded compensation, benefits and perks befitting her considerable contributions to the health of the family and the enterprise. There are two ways to accomplish this. First, the business owners should re-evaluate their standards and update stock, compensation and benefits plans for female employees. Second, they should implement programs to encourage the talent development of the girls in the family.   


Here are some suggestions:

  1. Develop flexible compensation plans that reward women for their hard work and talent even if they work part-time or take a leave of absence.
  2. Institute stock purchase plans for part-timers.
  3. Evaluate voting rights. Is it absolutely necessary to be a partner or a full-time worker to have a vote?
  4. Don’t ever pay the women according to what they would earn at another company. Pay them for their value to your family business. Obviously, a wife or mother is worth much more as your advocate than she would be paid as a bookkeeper in a non-family company.
  5. Pay for child care, and encourage the family business women and men to take advantage of the opportunity. Better yet, set up on-site child-care centers so that family business women will not conflicted about leaving their children to go to work.
  6. Set up a system to mentor the girls in the family. Often young women don’t even consider joining the family business, because they see the handwriting on the wall (i.e., the guys have sewn up all the good jobs). Arrange apprenticeships for the girls so they can learn first-hand about opportunities at your family firm.
  7. Offer scholarships to girls who are willing to study business in college or major in an area applicable to your family business.
  8. Don’t restrict scholarships to college. Offer start-up capital to young women who want to set up their own businesses if they write a good business plan.

Many family business owners mean well but just haven’t taken the time to delve into this problem. But if compensation and other recognition aren’t handled fairly for family business women, the enterprise will suffer from relationship disharmony as well as a “brain drain.” For the health and future success of the family business, these problems need correcting immediately.   

For additional information, visit Entrepreneurial Life - Families in Business. You can also download my recently released eBook for only $9.95 - Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home. Chapter 6 is on “Women Entrepreneurs: Are They Different from Men?”

Entrepreneurial Couples: Making it Work at Work and at Home – Now Available for Download

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


A growing phenomenon are husbands and wives joining forces in an entrepreneurial venture to make their dreams come true. For years I’ve been coaching and writing about these "entrepreneurial couples." And what I’ve observed, and my research supports, is that becoming an entrepreneurial couple is risky both professionally and personally. There are many challenges that come with this lifestyle. It's not an easy road, but the payoff can be great. 

 

My book, Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home - was written to address what it really is like to be an entrepreneurial couple. This book uses real-life examples to identify the challenges of this entrepreneurial lifestyle, as well as offer specific advice to help couples find the right balance at home and at work. It includes interactive questionnaires that help assess strengths and weaknesses in each area of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. If you’re a busy couple, this book is just what you need to help you design a more balanced, integrated, and meaningful entrepreneurial life.

 

Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home – has just been made available on my website as an e-Book. Download this PDF and share a copy with your spouse for easy and convenient access via laptop or tablet. Take it with you on your next vacation or business trip! Click here to download your own copy for only $9.95. 

How to Avoid Communication Problems in Family Businesses

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Bad communication is a major pitfall for family businesses. If families in business together do not learn how to properly communicate, the business and more importantly, the family will suffer. Poor communication or miscommunication is commonplace because not everyone is a naturally born communicator. It is a skill that has to be developed.


Before a complete communication breakdown, there are usually a few minor missteps that occur. Consider a few of this missteps and how to avoid them. 


Using a filter.  Humans have the tendency to only hear what they want to hear. Our desires, our past experiences, and what we focus on are filters. Filters shape how we listen and how we respond. So, when in conversation, ask yourself if a filter is shaping what you are hearing and speaking. If it is, remove it.  


Complaining. If there is a problem that needs to be solved, don’t be a complainer. Constant complaining is like a nail on a chalkboard and it doesn’t accomplish anything but aggravate the people around you. If there is a problem, speak about the problem and how to solve it. 


Poorly chosen words. You have heard it a million times, but it must be repeated. Think before you speak. Words have the power to cause a lot of damage and it is hard to erase what you say. So instead of saying something you will regret, think about it in advance. If you need time to think, ask politely to resume the discussion after putting some thought into the manner. 


Families in business can learn much about proper communication by enlisting the help of a family therapistContact my office if you are interested in setting up an appointment. 


My book - Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home – is also available for purchase and is highly beneficial for helping entrepreneurial couples to be better communicators. I’ve recently released it as an ebook. Download it and share a copy with your spouse for easy and convenient access via laptop or tablet. Take it with you on your next vacation or business trip! Click here to order your copy.

Entrepreneurial Couples - Don't Be a Divorce Statistic

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Divorce is all too common for entrepreneurial couples. If you are an entrepreneurial couple, you must make a concerted effort to save your marriage before the trouble ever starts. Simply, the best insurance against divorce is to attend to the relationship first, the business second. Sadly, the opposite seems to be what most entrepreneurial couples do. The pull of the business is strong, immediate and concrete. The pull of the marriage is strong too, but not as immediate and certainly fuzzy. Because it is easier to react and answer the phone call rather than remember to say something loving to one's spouse, the typical entrepreneur opts for responding to business needs first.

 

Business is about competition and marriage is about love. In business the goal is to compete, to win, to make a profit. In marriage there is no goal, but rather a process . . . that of exchanging love. Being loving and receiving love are the basics of a healthy marriage. How much work is love anyway? How much effort is there in telling your spouse he or she is loved? How hard is it to carve out one night a month to go on a date? Is it such an extravagance to bring home flowers for your sweetheart or treat him or her to basketball tickets? Along with all of the other e-mails you respond to each day, would it take so much of your precious work time to send an e-mail of appreciation to your spouse too?

 

To put it simply, put the marriage first by doing one loving thing each day for your spouse. You can do battle and conquer all day long in the business world, but at the end of your day, switch modes and have a conversation about nothing at all with your spouse. Don't search for the bottom line. Don't anticipate the close. Instead hold her hand, look into his eyes, talk a little, and congratulate yourself on how lucky you are to have a business partner who is the love of your life.

 

For more information, visit Marriage Counseling - Couples at Work and Home.

 

Available for purchase, Dr. Marshack's Book - Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home  

 


Entrepreneurs – How to Cultivate a Good Relationship with Your Employees

Sunday, September 09, 2012


A key to running a successful business is to have a good working relationship with your employees. This responsibility falls on you as the business owner. When you’re an entrepreneur, you are dependent on your employees to keep your dream alive. The best way to do that is to cultivate a positive, productive, and healthy working environment for you and your employees.

Here are some tips to create a good working relationship with your employees:

Set expectations. When you hire a new employee, it is important to clearly define what is going to be expected of them. How can you expect an employee to perform the way you want if they don't know what it is you’re looking for? Help them to see why these expectations are important to you and your business.


Commend. Positive feedback is vital when it comes to encouraging your staff. Be on the lookout for opportunities to give sincere commendation. Your employees will feel appreciated which leads to increased productivity. This will also make it easier on you if you need to give counsel. If counsel is tempered with commendation, it won't be as difficult to take.


Communication. Speak with your staff regularly. Get their feedback and opinions. They are at the forefront of your business and are usually in the best position to know what is really going on. Don't just encourage them to talk to you make sure you talk openly with them. Think about what you know about the business and share it with them.


Respect. Treat your staff the way you would want to be treated – as a capable adult. If they feel respected, you will too.


Building a good relationship with your staff takes time and effort, but it will be well worth it! For more information, visit Entrepreneurial Life to learn more.

Having Trouble Making a Business Decision? Hire a Psychologist

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Many business owners are puzzled when their attorney or CPA suggests that they should meet with a psychologist before proceeding with signing a contract, structuring a reorganization or resolving a partnership disagreement. What's a psychologist have to do with business anyway? " I don't need a shrink," they say.

The simple truth is that getting a psychologist involved in a family business makes sense. Why?

1) Half of American businesses are family owned and operated. 2) Many of these businesses are run and staffed by family members who are not necessarily formally trained or educated for their specific job. They work for the business because they are trusted family members dedicated to the success of the family enterprise. 3) Many of these businesses have been around two or three or even four generations, which means that the children are growing up identifying themselves with the family business. What this means for many family firms is that the business is a part of the family and the family is a part of the business.

Recognizing that family businesses are really families with a business identity, a psychologist is able to get beneath the surface of some business problems to identify the emotional snags that are hanging up a business decision. There is nothing more frustrating or expensive than taking weeks and months to develop a new business strategy, only to have it sit there going nowhere because there is a family dispute.

Many family firms want to have open communication. They want to resolve longstanding family/business disputes. They don't like walking on eggshells around certain family members or avoiding sensitive subjects. In spite of good intentions, many of these family firms do not have the skills to address and resolve these problems. They need support and guidance by a psychologist who is trained in resolving problems within a family business system. They need education to learn these skills.

If you have a family business and live in the Vancouver, Washington/Portland, Oregon area, I would be happy to assist you. Contact my office to set up an appointment. For additional information, visit Entrepreneurial Life - Families in Business.

Entrepreneurial Couples - Use Differences When Making Decisions

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Often you will find that there are major style and personality differences between male and female entrepreneurs. These differences become even more apparent when a husband and wife equally own and operate a company. Management, decision-making, even operations are powerfully influenced by a difference in entrepreneurial style. The integration of a male perspective and a female perspective can be quite an asset. Often times a husband and wife get stuck because they do not recognize the dynamic that is going on.

An interesting dynamic between entrepreneurial couples is how they make decisions. One way I sum it up is that men make the first best decision, but women seek out the best-best decision. Women want to look at all sides of an issue before deciding anything. They value everyone's opinion in the process of moving toward a decision. Men on the other hand seek to move the organization along as swiftly as possible. Regardless of everyone's view, men tend to value the efficiency of getting to the answer quickly.

How does this dynamic work when a husband/wife team needs to make decisions together? If they understand each other well, then the decision-making dynamic is powerful. If they don't, then each party can feel very misunderstood. How can this be done effectively? When a husband and wife work together there is the potential to create a strong leadership for their organization. When a husband recognizes that his wife needs an impartial discussion with a variety of options before deciding, she feels understood and more inclined to move toward decisive action. When a wife recognizes that her husband has a need to get things done as efficiently as possible, she can refocus her energy onto solutions, even if she would like just a little more discussion.

Put simply, when making a business decision as an entrepreneurial couple, work to combine the wife's strengths and the husband's strengths. Take what you know about each other and use it to the fullest to take your enterprise to a new height and enlighten the world with your success.

For more information on succeeding as an entrepreneurial couple, pick up your own personal copy of Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home. This book will soon be available as an Ebook for entrepreneurial couples on the go, stay tuned for the release!

Entrepreneurial Couples - How to Give and Receive Criticism

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


When couples work together they have the opportunity to work with a partner they love and trust most. They also have the opportunity to see the best and worst of their partner . . . day in and day out. Even with the most enlightened people, this constant togetherness can cause conflict. It's wonderful to have closeness, rapport, and regular praise from your sweetheart. It just doesn't feel as wonderful to have your partner know you so well that they give you regular criticism as well.

It is important to view criticism for what is really is . . . a critical analysis of your behaviors and an offering of advice on how to change, grow and improve yourself. If criticism is hard for you to take, try viewing it from this perspective. Criticism doesn't make you bad or undesirable. It is just feedback for your enlightenment. Everyone from time to time needs to check out old habits, rewrite some scripts, take a few risks, and try anything new to break out of a rut. If we don't attend to this we lose out personally.


If you are offering criticism to your spouse, here are a few things that you should keep mind. First, choose a good time. The right moment can make a huge difference in how the criticism is received. Second, be prepared to offer some sort of commendation along with the criticism. This will remind them that you do care and value them. Third, make sure that it is necessary criticism. It may be an issue that is really not that important or it might just be your inability to be flexible more than them needing to change.

Criticism is a vital tool that if used properly can make a person blossom for the good. For more information, read my article - Entrepreneurial Couples Can Transform Criticism into Feedback.

Want to learn more about the rewards and challenges of working with your spouse? Visit Entrepreneurial Life - Couples at Work and Home

The Benefits of Being Creative in Business

Thursday, May 03, 2012


Creativity is often linked to artistic ability, but that is not necessarily the case. If you are an entrepreneur, you have shown yourself to be a creative person regardless of any artistic talent. In fact, creativity can be an important key in keeping your business successful and your enthusiasm for your work running strong.

Creativity can be used to improve or improvise a variety of situations. Instead of being stuck with one single method of approaching a situation, being creative allows you to look at many options. By opening your mind to different options, you are opening your horizons and may be surprised with the end result. It may be a way that you have never looked at a problem before.

If you have an good idea, sometimes you just need to run with it. It may or may not work, but allowing your creative juices to flow will only enhance your entrepreneurial abilities. This may be a new way of thinking for you, but with practice and time you can improve your creativity skills. Think of it like a muscle. A muscle has to be trained over time and be used regularly to be of use. Creativity is a never ending process, so do not get discouraged if a situation does not have the intended result. A failed creative thought or idea may not work for a particular situation, but it may for another one down the line.

So, think outside the box. Challenge yourself. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Would you like assistance in unleashing your creativity? Consider setting up an appointment with a business coach. If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area, please contact my office for an in depth consultation.

Entrepreneurial Life - Beware of Burnout

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Are you an entrepreneur? Have you ever experience "burnout?" The entrepreneurial lifestyle is a demanding one. Of course, there are many rewards, but if not kept in check, this lifestyle can lead you down a very unhealthy path, emotionally and physically.

Since entrepreneurs are driven to succeed, it is easy to push through without stopping to evaluate if you’re on the path to self-destruction. Regardless of how you feel at this moment, if you are an entrepreneur, I encourage you to stop and honestly evaluate yourself. Take note of the signs that you may be burned out.

Signs of Burnout:

  • You are usually creative, but instead you feel like you have hit a wall
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of enthusiasm or drive for your work
  • A cranky, negative attitude that won't disappear
  • Hypertension
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Chronic headaches or stomach problems
  • Family and friends voicing concerns for your well-being

If you see yourself in this list, then it is time to take a time out. It may be as simple as taking a few hours out of your work week for a hobby or time with your family. How about scheduling in a long weekend or a vacation? Whatever you need to do, do it immediately. Success is wonderful, but not a the expense of your mental or physical health. If taking a break does not relieve your symptoms, then you may need to get the assistance of a mental health care professional. There could be deeper issues that need to be addressed. Doing so will be worth your while.

For more information, visit Entrepreneurial Life and Managing Stress.


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