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Money Tips for Couples Starting Their Own Business

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Couple sitting at desk looking at billsYou’ve got a new business idea? Great! Your romantic partner is on board to work with you? Even better! As you begin to plan the logistics of how this new enterprise with your partner will grow and thrive, it goes without saying that planning financial matters will be on the top of your list of things to do.

These plans do not refer solely to financial matters directly related to the business, such as start-up costs, fees, and overhead. When you’re working together as a couple, money issues are also part of your personal lives. One partner may keep their full-time job while the other devotes their time to the new business. Maybe you will both quit working and jump in with both feet. How will this entrepreneurial venture affect your children?

As a couple, you need to determine ahead of time, how you will manage your money, or lack thereof, during this transition.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with many entrepreneurial couples, and there is a pattern among those who have long-term, happy relationships interwoven with a prosperous business life. Here are some money tips for couples starting their own business I have seen work time and again:

  • Make a plan for personal expenses. Know what you have, and what you can afford. Growth usually requires a certain amount of risk, but don’t go into your new situation blind. Create a solid plan for how you will continue to pay for your personal expenses as the business grows.


  • Prepare to live on a single income. It may not come to this. Your business could be profitable immediately. Or you may both continue working full-time until the business reaches a point where you feel comfortable with one or both of you quitting your full-time job. But be prepared for the idea that you may very likely have to survive on less for a time. Make sure that no matter where your money is coming from, you both feel like equal partners. Regular communication is vital to maintaining that feeling of partnership.

  • Designate responsibilities. Don’t get lost in the chaos that comes with launching a new business. Keep in touch with each other and make sure everyone feels valued. For efficiency’s sake, you may divide up duties along the lines of who is most capable or available. At the end of the day, though, you are just as responsible as your partner for the success of your goal. If one spouse is less involved in the business, show gratitude for the work they do and sacrifices they make in other ways.


  • Give 100%. Each partner should consider themselves 100% responsible for the quality of their individual life as well as their joint venture (i.e. parenting, household duties, managing & promoting a business). You should put your whole self, talents, intuitions, and muscle into the marriage and business partnership. When both partners do this, it makes them each equally responsible for the outcome.


  • Communicate. There is no substitute for regular, meaningful communication. What does this have to do with money? Your business will suffer if you are not working together as partners in life and business. Take time out from the stress of entrepreneurship to reconnect and keep love as your top priority. This means talking about things unrelated to your business. Talk about the things that feed your soul, that concern you, that bring you joy.


  • Maintain a healthy work-life balance. Starting and running a successful business requires an inordinate amount of time and energy. It could result in you losing touch with those most important to you. It is also crucial to care for your personal health and well-being. Your business can’t run without you, and your partner doesn’t want to do it without you. Set aside time to be active in a way that energizes and invigorates you, and schedule time with your family and friends. That time spent recharging your batteries can be just what you need to persevere and achieve even greater things.


Talking about money is a top stressor for many couples. When you add in the stress of starting a new business don’t be surprised if things get a bit rocky in your relationship. I’ve helped many couples make a success of their marriage and their business. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment. If you live elsewhere, take a look at remote education services specifically for entrepreneurial couples.

The Art of Negotiation When You Live With Your Business Partner

Monday, March 20, 2017


Man and woman negotiatingAs an entrepreneur you are probably pretty accustomed to negotiating to get what you want. You negotiate prices, interest rates, contracts and more. And when you enter into a business partnership, you negotiate the details of the arrangement and the way you will do business.
 
What you may not be so used to is “negotiating” with your romantic partner. The term used most often in this setting is “compromise.” Two people communicate and discuss an issue, and eventually reach a compromise. The idea of compromising, though, carries the connotation that at least one person loses out in some way. They have to give up something important or valuable to them to reach an agreement.
 
Now, what happens when your romantic partner is also your business partner? How can you negotiate successfully with someone you are very likely used to compromising with? As with any relationship, life partners who are also business partners should work toward finding a win-win solution. The art of negotiating a win-win, or no-compromise, solution with another person requires a lot of effort. But the pay-off is a relationship filled with respect and cooperation.
 
The art of negotiation for entrepreneurial couples consists of the following:
 

Listen. It is very important to hone your listening skills. Listening can be a difficult skill to master, especially if you have a lot to say. But a good listener gains understanding of the other person’s reality, which is necessary before you can proceed with negotiations.


Listen to what your partner is trying to tell you, not just the actual words they are using. It will take some perception and understanding on your part to read between the lines. Pay attention to their body language. Also, be truly interested in what they have to say. You have chosen to spend your life with this person, so show that same interest and kindness when you deal with them in regards to your business.

 

Display empathy. Your partner has likely spent a good portion of their day being beat up by the outside world. So when negotiating with them, deal with them in a different way. You are a source of peace, a place of sanctuary. If you are genuine and make the effort to feel what your partner is feeling, they will feel appreciated. This will make them more comfortable speaking in clear terms that will require less analyzing and translating on your part.


Watch your tone. Maybe a direct, assertive, no-nonsense tone has gotten you what you want from others in the past. It probably doesn’t work so well with your partner. Your voice helps sets the tone for negotiations, so start light. Keep your tone positive, even playful. If things get more serious and stressful, use a low and slow voice. This type of voice inflection signals that you are in control, but does not show aggression or put your partner on the defensive.


Look at things a different way. There are many “right” solutions to a problem. We tend to think our solution is the right one because it fits our reality the best. Be open to ideas that work just as well, or even better, than our original one. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to benefit from the creativity of other free thinking individuals.


Take your time. Don’t move too quickly, or too slow. Don’t drag on a negotiation longer than need be. But devote the time necessary to have a productive conversation, or series of conversations. It may be that a solution cannot be reached in one day, and you have to go to bed and start again tomorrow. That’s ok! Don’t give up just because you aren’t getting your way. You may be tempted to resort to intimidation for the sake of expediency, but you will risk your healthy relationship with your partner.


Focus. Keep your business discussions focused on business. Try to avoid letting personal issues or outside forces into the conversation. And when the discussion is over, don’t let it carry over into your personal relationship. Living with your business partner doesn’t mean that everything revolves around the business. Nurture your personal relationship, too.


These positive negotiation skills should help you resolve most issues. However, the tendency to compromise, intimidate, or acquiesce can be difficult to get past. Sometimes it is necessary to get some outside help get personal and business discussions back on track and productive. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere, I offer remote education for entrepreneurial couples via video conference.

High Emotional Intelligence – A Must for Successful Entrepreneurs

Monday, February 27, 2017


High emotional intelligence helps entrepreneurs succeedHow well do you manage your emotions? How about other people’s emotions? Can you read what they’re feeling and use this awareness to improve your relationships? If so, then you likely have a high EQ or Emotional Quotient.

Is this important for entrepreneurs? Absolutely! Studies have shown that over 90% of top performing business people have a high EQ.

Emotional intelligence is made up of two parts, personal competence and social competence. Emotionally intelligent people have the capability to recognize their emotions and the emotions of others. They can then use this information to guide their thinking and manage their emotions so they can adapt to their environment and achieve their goals. An emotionally intelligent person can also find a balance between the rational and emotional parts of their brain.

The good news is, unlike other measurements of intelligence, your EQ fluctuates throughout your life and you can drastically improve it through increased awareness. Below are qualities that emotionally intelligent people posses and how these qualities provide an advantage in business and life.

As you read through this list, I encourage you to rate how well you do in each area.

They are difficult to offend.
People with a high EQ have thick skin – they are confident, open-minded and not overly self-conscious. They are comfortable joking about their own faults and not offended when others do so. This trait makes them invaluable in social situations.

They’re a good judge of character.
This trait has to do with the social competence aspect of emotional intelligence. The ability to read others’ emotions, by observing body language and facial expressions, enables them to avoid stepping on toes. Emotionally intelligent people are also able to see beyond the facade and understand a person’s real motivations and intentions. This ability is paramount for savvy entrepreneurs.

They have a large emotional vocabulary.
Everyone experiences emotions but few have to ability to describe and categorize them. Having a large repertoire of emotional words allows you expand your consciousness about your feelings so you can connect them to the rational part of your brain. Instead of using the word “happy,” an emotionally intelligent person might use “satisfied”, “content”, or “cheerful”. When you use this specific word choice it allows you to connect with the source of your emotions and empowers you to decide what to do with them.

They can neutralize the effect of toxic people.
Dealing with a difficult person can be taxing on anybody. These types of people create complications, hurt feelings and in general create stress for others. People with a high EQ, have the advantage of dealing with difficult people effectively. They stay aware of their emotions and can remain calm and objective. They establish boundaries and decide when they have to put up with that person and when they don’t. Lastly, they keep an emotional distance from the person while still keeping aware of the other person's emotions.

They don’t hold grudges.
Emotionally intelligent people understand that holding a grudge is pointless and exhausting. Holding onto a grudge means holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people avoid unnecessary stress at all costs. Chronic stress increases the risk of long-term heart problems and a variety of other health issues.

What do you think? You probably saw areas where you are doing well and other areas that could use some work. Improving your emotional intelligence can be difficult, it requires conscious effort, but the benefits, far outweigh the cost. Having an awareness of your emotional state and that of others’, whether they are employees, customers or family members, will result in much stronger relationships. And relationships are the foundation of every successful business.

Heightened emotional intelligence can give you and your business the competitive edge you seek. If you would like to dramatically improve your EQ and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

Stressed Employees? Six Ways to Reduce Stress in a Family Business

Monday, February 20, 2017


Stressed woman sitting at deskAs an entrepreneur, you are used to handling high stress levels. It comes with the job. But what about your employees? They deal with stress, too. High levels of stress can cause or compound a variety of physical and emotional health issues. As a result, stressed-out employees tend to take more time off and be less productive when they are in the office. Their stress can also rub off on you, customers and coworkers.
 
You may think it’s not your job, but savvy business owners recognize that helping employees reduce stress is a top priority. If you work with your family, it is more important than ever to create a positive work environment. The good news is there are many positive changes you can make to create a work environment that reduces the stress you and your employees feel.
 
How can you help reduce the stress felt by your employees? Consider these six ideas:
 
  1. Set a good example. Just as children imitate the example of their parents, so too do employees imitate the example of their boss. Demonstrate what work-life balance looks like. Take time for your family and your wellbeing. Avoid negative attitudes. If you establish a culture of balance and reasonableness at the office, your employees will follow suit and stress levels will go down.
  2. Help them find balance. Even if your employees see you taking time for yourself and trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance, they could struggle to achieve the same thing in their own life. So empower them with information about the benefits of staying healthy through exercise and good eating habits, and the importance of taking breaks. You may even want to create company policies that encourage health and wellbeing.
  3. Communicate openly. Be clear and open with everyone involved in the family business. Create an environment where people feel comfortable asking questions and making suggestions. Let each person know what is expected of them and how they can gauge their success. Stress is reduced when people feel heard and informed.
  4. Don’t be afraid of confrontation. In family firms, conflicts often get buried instead of being resolved. However, avoiding conflict can lead to serious problems. Issues can fester, and progress isn’t made. In order to get to the bottom of conflicts and move forward, you must respectfully and firmly confront the issue. Acknowledge that you may or may not be right, but insist that the family talk things out. Keep talking until you find a mutually agreeable solution.
  5. Create a pleasant work environment. Your employees will do their best work when their environment is free of clutter and full of life. Get to work organizing, filing, and putting things away. Encourage laughter, teamwork, and bonding. Bring in some art and plants. Plants purify the air, reduce blood pressure, and promote positive energy.
  6. Express appreciation. It is a good practice to daily look for opportunities to tell each person how much you appreciate them. Employees need to hear commendation. And if they hear you offering commendation, they will be more likely to express appreciation for the help their colleagues give them as well.
 
A positive work environment is vital when it comes to reducing job stress, forging strong family bonds, and increasing productivity. Sometimes it is easier said than done, especially when it comes to working with family. I am here to help you manage the unique challenges of working with your loved ones. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

Does Your Family Business Need Good Advice?

Monday, February 13, 2017


people holding pieces of a puzzle togetherThere are times in life when we all need good advice. Although you may take pride in your independence and individualism, most of us can agree that the right advice at the right time can save us a lot of heartache. Whether we seek it from a parent, mentor, therapist, or religious leader, we appreciate their insight. Even if the advice seems irrelevant, it might trigger your own thinking to evolve in a constructive direction.
 
What if you run a family business? Who do you go to for advice?
 
Maybe it is just you and your spouse, starting your own entrepreneurial venture as a couple. Or perhaps you have a more established family enterprise that has already been passed down for a couple of generations. Who do you turn to when there are communication problems, underlying tension, conflict over success planning, etc.?
 
After decades consulting with family businesses, I find many business owners are puzzled when their attorney or CPA suggests meeting with me before making important business decisions. What does a psychologist have to do with business? “We don’t need a shrink,” they say.
 
What are the benefits of a psychologist’s expertise when it comes to developing goals and resolving problems in a family business?
 
For entrepreneurial couples, it is important to remember that you are a married couple first, and business partners second. Your business partnership is an expression of the personality and values of you as the founders. If you want to run a successful business, you must prioritize and tend to the personal, emotional, and psychological aspects of your life and relationship before you can make good business decisions. Thus, one of your primary consultants needs to be a psychologist – preferably one familiar with entrepreneurial couples and their specific challenges.
 
When more members of the family are involved in the business, it is even more important to get sound advice. Many family businesses have been around for two or more generations and the children have grown up identifying themselves with the family business. What this means for many family firms is that the business is as much a part of the family as each family member is a part of the business.
 
Family businesses are really families with a business identity. As a psychologist, I have been able to get beneath the surface of some business problems to identify and rectify the emotional snags that are holding things up. There is nothing more frustrating or expensive than taking months to develop a new business strategy, only to have it sit there, going nowhere, because of a family dispute. Without help to work on the underlying issues, family tensions will affect the business.
 
One specific problem that many family firms deal with is a lack of open communication. Many family firms want to have open communication and resolve longstanding disputes. Why is it so hard? Even with the best of intentions, many families in business simply do not have the skills to address and resolve these problems. They need support and guidance by an objective psychologist who is trained in resolving problems within a family business. These are skills that can be learned! Look at it as a vital course in your continuing education program.
 
Do not let the “shrink” stigma hold you back. Rather, think of your psychologist as an integral part of your team of advisors. I have helped many entrepreneurial couples and families in business work together and thrive. If you live near Portland OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

Why Your Family Business Needs a Mission Statement for the New Year

Tuesday, January 03, 2017


Family gathers around computerAt the start of a new year, we hear a lot about goals and resolutions. However, as a family business there’s something much more important to your success – a clearly defined mission. If you own a family enterprise perhaps your resolution this year should be to create or revisit your mission statement?

It always surprises me how many family businesses don’t have a stated mission. It seems to happen because a family business often starts because of a need to support the family or as a creative outlet for the entrepreneur. Once this goal was accomplished, no further thought is given on how to grow the business while maintaining harmony in the family. That’s a mistake!

Having a purposeful mission for your business can be a strong motivator, not just for the current owner, but for succeeding generations as well. While family businesses are born from many different beginnings, it stands to reason that what inspired and motivated the founder is not likely to be what keeps the business going in future generations. Members of the family that are poised to take over the business have different skills and ideas for how to proceed. A stated mission for the family business will make it easier to merge their incoming ideas with present ideals.

Basically, a well-thought-out mission statement can serve as a foundation that allows you to continue building your business in unity. Members of the family and the business have something to anticipate. They can look forward to what lies ahead. When there are decisions to be made, you can refer to the values stated in the mission to help.

So how can you develop a mission for your family business?

Take some time to examine your goals, values, and dreams for your business and your family life. Write them down. Don’t worry if some of your business goals conflict with family goals at first. Just write down what you want and what you value. If your spouse is involved in the business, they should also be involved in this exercise.

Compare your lists and see where they are similar or different. Note where your lists contradict each other and where they agree. Rank the items on your list based on what is most important to you, and again compare it with your partner’s list. As you work and rework your list, you will notice some basic truths emerging. These truths are the values that you live by and will serve as the guide for making future family business decisions.

With a family enterprise, there is no way the business can be successful without including the values, goals, and dreams of the family. Your mission should be a unified expression of what your family and business is about, what you really want to do and be, and the principles you choose to govern your life.

As your mission begins to take shape on paper, examine whether you are meeting it today. If not, change whatever you are doing now! The New Year is the perfect time to make some changes and get on the right track.

If you are looking to set goals for yourself and your business, I suggest making an appointment with a professional psychologist who is also a business consultant. They can help you to set and define goals specific to you, your personality, and your business style. I have worked with family businesses for over twenty-five years. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Or take a look at my remote education services if you live elsewhere.

Entrepreneurs – Do You Need to Change Your Habits This Year?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Arrows pointing opposite directionsWe all have habits we don’t even notice anymore. Maybe you get up each morning and immediately make a cup coffee. When you get to the office, you might take a moment to organize your desk and plan your day. You could take the same path through the grocery store every time you shop.

Our days are made up of a series of habitual behaviors. We develop habits because they are convenient mechanisms for getting things done without having to think too much about them. This leaves us more time and mental energy to devote to other things. Entrepreneurs, who are pulled in so many different directions throughout the day, find mindless habit to be extremely helpful as it allows some things to just flow.

But what happens when your formerly good habits no longer serve your best interest?

When you come to realize that a habit, or even a series of them, is no longer serving its purpose, stop doing it. Once we get something working, an efficient routine, it can be hard to give it up. But the fact is that what works now, won’t work forever.

Our lives are ever changing, as is our environment and our business. Therefore, it is important to assess your habits from time to time. Ask yourself: Are my habits helping me? Or are they just comfortable? Have they gotten to the point of being counterproductive?

I worked with a couple who, for many years, had a great routine going. Don ran the family business and Maria cared for the home and the children. The problem came later, when the children were grown. Maria wanted to go back to work, but she had trouble seeing her husband taking care of some of her former household duties. Don was afraid to relinquish control of their family finances. They struggled because everything had worked so smoothly for so long, they were reluctant to change even though change was needed.

What they needed to do was examine their habits in the light of their values as a family. If traditional family roles were most important to them, then it would make sense for Maria to not work outside the home. However, if their traditional style was simply convenient when the children were young, they should have no problem changing their style and habits to suit a dual-career life.

Successful entrepreneurs are all about managing exterior change, but many forget that they have to change themselves sometimes. While it is not always a comfortable process, change is a part of life and it is vital to our progress and happiness. We all need to experience new things, overcome new challenges that take us outside of our comfort zones, to grow.

As this year draws to a close, it is the perfect time to step back and assess your habits, personally and professionally. Can you identify any of your habits that might be doing more harm than good? I’m sure you can recognize some of your habits as being helpful and moving you forward in the right direction. Are there any new habits you want to develop?

New Year’s Resolutions often get a bad rap for not lasting past January. It doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, try examining your priorities and resolve to establish habits and routines that maximize your values and beliefs. These are changes and habits that will last…until they need to change again!

Have your habits and routines stopped bringing you joy? If there is something about your life that’s not working, don’t settle for it! If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. I will help you get to the root of the problem and find a solution.

Drinking Safely During the Holidays

Monday, December 19, 2016


Woman declining a glass of wineIt’s the most wonderful time of the year – spending time with family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, and invitations to a lot of parties. With all this merriment, often comes more drinking. Even for people who generally drink in moderation, holiday celebrations can really impact their alcohol consumption and quickly lead to overindulgence.
 
What is it about the holidays that lend themselves to an increase in drinking? There is a festive feeling in the air at this time of year. It seems there are endless occasions for celebrations, from end-of-the-year office parties, to the reunion of long-lost friends and family.
 
The flip side of that, though, is the extra stress brought on by the holiday season. Family dinners do not always equate to relaxing, enjoyable evenings. Memories of those who are no longer with us can bring sadness. The sheer cost of the holidays can also make it tempting to escape in a glass of spiked eggnog!
 
Whether you’re celebrating, or trying to de-stress, it may be tempting to overindulge or even use the holidays as excuse for binge-drinking. It may seem like a good idea to help you cope with difficult family members or an uncomfortable office party, but the reality is over-drinking can have a detrimental physical effects and lead to behaviors you often regret later.
 
So how can you enjoy drinking during the holiday season wisely? Here are a few suggestions:
 
Have a plan. How much alcohol are you comfortable drinking? A martini? Two glasses of wine? Decide ahead of time how much you will drink, and stick to your decision. Don’t let others push you to drink more than you know you should.
 
This is especially important for recovering alcoholics. Go in to any gathering with two or three responses prepared for when you are inevitably offered a drink. You don’t have to tell anyone that you have struggled with addiction. A firm, “No, thank you. I’m fine,” can suffice.
 
Keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand. This helps space out the drinks you’ve already decided you can have. Instead of drinking two glasses of wine before dinner is even served, sip on some water or sparkling cider in-between glasses.
 
This is also a great way to avoid being offered a drink. If people see you with a glass already in your hand, they will be much less inclined to try to push something on you. Having something bubbly and delicious also helps you avoid feeling deprived.
 
Remind yourself why you plan to drink in moderation (or not at all!). Have you made bad choices in the past when you over-drink? Do you feel sick, tired, and weak the next day? Remember why it is important to you to make this choice.
 
Keep alcohol in its proper place. Instead of viewing the party as an opportunity to drink, look at it as a wonderful time to socialize and enjoy good conversation. Then if you choose to have a drink, it's just an addition to a lovely evening not the focal point.
 
Surround yourself with supportive loved ones. For those that deal with addiction, it is vital to get support from close friends and family. While they may not understand exactly what you are going through, they want the best for you and will help in any way they can. If you start to feel your willpower waning, reach out to them. If you make it through a tempting situation successfully, share it with them!
 
If one of your family members struggles with addiction, it is very important that you help them as much as they will accept. The function of the family unit is to nurture and protect its members. Family members tend to overlook, condone, deny, rationalize, or minimize the problem for the sake of keeping peace. No one wants to rock the boat, especially around the holidays. Of course, you can’t force anyone to do anything. But offer to help. Do not enable them, or ignore their addiction. And if they turn around and get their life back on track, celebrate with them and support them in their ongoing efforts!
 
If you feel that you need help dealing with addiction personally, or in your family, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, I can help! Please contact my office to set up an appointment.

7 Ways to Teach Your Child to be a Leader

Monday, November 21, 2016


Mother and daughter spending time togetherIt probably goes without saying that parents want their children to be leaders rather than followers. Some children are natural leaders. They seem to inherently understand how to negotiate successfully, effectively give directions, and kindly offer help. These children bring peace and harmony to a group, and inspire others to do their best.
 
But for most children, these skills do not come naturally. They are skills that must be learned from you as a parent – the family leader! When you are running a family business, there’s an additional element to teaching leadership since your child might be called upon to lead the family business someday.
 
So how can you teach your child to be an effective leader? Fortunately, you don’t have to revamp your entire routine to teach leadership skills to your children. Small things you do every day can have a big effect.
 
Take a look at these seven ways you can help your children grow into great leaders:
 
Emphasize the value of perseverance. Leaders need to learn to handle failure gracefully. They may fail many times, but true leaders always get back up and move on quickly. It is important to allow your children to experience disappointment rather than protect them from it. When you shield your children from failure, they don’t learn to tolerate the inevitable failure they will experience later in life. Children need to learn how to deal with a setback and move forward with a positive attitude. When they do fail, be kind and show support. Let them know that you understand their feelings. This will help them understand that things will ultimately work out for them.
 
Don’t be so quick to offer praise. Children need praise to build their self-esteem, but not so much that they depend on praise from others to feel good about themselves. Their confidence must come from within. They need to learn to believe in themselves, especially in the face of opposition or naysayers. When you do praise your children, praise the effort they put in to something.
 
Let your children be self-sufficient. Don’t be quick to jump in and solve their problems for them. This applies to everything from school projects to a disagreement they have with a friend or sibling. Step back and let your children work through their issues. This empowers them to stand on their own two feet and take control. They learn to be responsible and accountable.
 
Focus on independence verses obedience. By no means am I advocating a parenting technique where the child can be disobedient, rude, or disrespectful. However, if you want your child to lead your company someday, they need to learn how to be independent and make good decisions now. Independence is a state of mind that children must conquer for themselves. In order to do this, children must eventually prove themselves in the adult world. This proof often comes by leaving home, perhaps even the family business for a time, and facing their fears of being on their own.
 
Don’t focus too much on achievement. Of course, you are proud of your child when they get good grades or excel in some other way. But are those individual achievements really what’s most important? Isn’t it the journey? True success, especially in the business world, comes from teamwork. The most successful people surround themselves with talented people who make up for what they lack. If you focus too much on the individual achievements of your children, they will not learn how to work with others, ask for help, and may give up out of discouragement.
 
Say no. It sounds simple, but it is very powerful. Successful leaders work hard for the things that are important to them. They don’t get everything they want, right this second. It is vital for children to develop this same patience. Help them set goals. They will experience the joy and gratification that comes from working hard to accomplish their goals and get what they want. Your children will learn to deal with the initial disappointment, and refocus on the goal ahead.
 
Model the behaviors you want to see in your children. Your children see everything you do, and soak it up like a sponge! Make sure your actions are saying what you want them to say. Be honest and authentic. Show your children that it is ok to be who you are. Show them that you aren’t infallible, that everyone makes mistakes. Then you can teach them how to work through, and learn from, their mistakes.
 
Parenting is no easy task, and we can all use some help from time-to-time. If you need help with your family, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Is a Millennial a Good Fit to Run Your Family Business?

Monday, November 14, 2016


Young woman helping older man with computerFor family businesses, planning for succession is one of the toughest and most critical challenges. If you’ve been doing business for decades, let’s face it, your twenty-something granddaughter might see the world very differently than you do! Instead of dreading succession planning, try to view it as an opportunity to create a business that embodies your family’s values and mission for generations to come. It can also be an opportunity to bond with your younger family member in a deeper way.

Successfully planning for the future of your business involves truly knowing, understanding, and collaborating with the next generation, which may mean a Millennial family member. As much bad press as Millennials get, they are actually a great choice to take over the family business! In fact, 62% of millennial-owned businesses reported increased sales over the past six months vs. 41% of small business owners overall. They are also the most likely to grow their workforce this year.

With their positive outlook, fresh ideas, and new skills, many Millennials are well-equipped to carry on the family business. So how can you successfully plan to transfer your business to your Millennial family member? Here are some recommendations:
Understand their perspective. Millennials are unlike any previous generation. They aren’t tied to traditions. They don’t want to live in the office when with a cell phone in their hand and wi-fi nearby, they can accomplish just about anything. They work hard, but differently. When it comes to work, they want to have a purpose, to feel they are tied to something important that impacts the community.
Be open to new, innovative ideas. We just discussed how different Millennials are. Take advantage of those differences! They understand the developing market, and the importance of technology. Discussing new ideas builds trust and creates new opportunities. Taking time to go over some new ideas before transitioning to new ownership gives everyone involved the chance to effectively merge the incoming ideas with present business practices.Communicate clearly. Don’t avoid talking about the succession process. Let your Millennial family member know what you are thinking and how they can be involved. This gives them time to consider if they truly want to be a part of the family business. If they do, the process of exchanging ideas and mentoring can begin early. You also have the chance to determine if they are truly a good fit for the job. (Read another article, Should your children leave the nest - and business - behind? for more insight on this decision.) Take time to train your successors. Once the succession plan is in place, take time to train the person/people who will be taking over for you. As I mentioned before, you want to be specific about your expectations, but not to the point that they become dependent on you for everything. Use your time to empower them as a leader. Also, it has been noted that employees in a family business are more likely to accept their new Millennial boss if they’ve been visibly and reliably learning the business rather than suddenly appearing in power overnight.The goal when creating a succession plan for your family business is to simultaneously ensure the success of your business, and the health and happiness of your family. Just as with legal and financial decisions, the emotional or psychological aspects of succession planning often requires the assistance of a professional. If you are starting to plan for the future of your business, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.


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