Stop The Vanilla Blog

Prosperity for Generations to Come


There are always challenges when a company is on the door step of transferring from one generation to another.  Many companies often start with the legal side of the transfer but from my experience the first place to start is by gaining agreement across all generations on the business plan for the organization under the leadership of the incoming generation.

It’s natural that each family member in any generation will have their own perspective on how the business should run moving forward.   It’s the companies that talk through those perspectives to gain agreement on one plan that will set their family up for prosperity for many generations to come.  Developing a plan will lead to increased profitability which provides more options for the family and the company to work through any leadership or ownership transfer issues.

In the case of this client company, with the support of the third generation SM Advisors guided the fourth generation through the Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream Process to define the future vision, strategy and organizational structure for the company.  This included the non-family members of the leadership team as well.  Once the incoming fourth generation planning team completed the plan development phase of the process, they presented the plan and budget as a unified team to the shareholders/third generation.

Having the incoming generation develop, present and execute the plan with the support and approval of the outgoing generation has created significant results (financial and non-financial) for the company:

  • It allowed the incoming generation to present their plan for the business to the outgoing generation
  • It helped the outgoing generation to understand where the incoming generation is going to go with the business and have both parties agree on it.
  • It allowed non-family members the opportunity to provide their input on how to improve the company.  Their non-biased input brought insightful and incredible value to the planning process.
  • It created a collective vision for the business that all family and non-family leadership team members agreed on.  Having agreement on the vision gave the team members confidence to work through the smaller issues along the way.
  • It gave family members and non-family members the ability to drop the “past pack” of issues and heal relationships.  It provided a fresh start after 100 years.
  • It is allowing the outgoing generation to hold the incoming generation accountable to a plan they developed.
  • The company has experienced a substantial increase in profitability since starting the planning process.
  • The family is building a foundation for multi-generational prosperity for years to come.
  • For the first time in 100 years, three generations are unified around a plan.

Changing the Business Landscape

Business Landscape

The worldwide recession that began in 2007 ended forever the days when businesses could prosper despite offering little than middle-of-the-pack products and services.  While nobody likes a recession, it’s also true that economic hard times create opportunities for companies that are dedicated to rising above the crowd.  Organizations that differentiate themselves from their competition thrive regardless of the economy, while those who remain content with the status quo struggle to survive.  The fact is that your customer’s buying criteria have evolved to the point where average just isn’t good enough anymore and never will be again.  Indeed, you’ve probably noticed that shift in your own purchasing decisions.  During the latest business downturn, the most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders understood they needed a new approach.  They survived the recession by realizing there had to be a better way–a more effective way– to outplan and outperform the competition.  That’s what I will share with you.

By this point, you may have concluded that your business is in the same position that most companies find themselves in: You’re stuck in the flat, leveling, or even declining sales pattern.  It’s also possible that, like many of the companies I work with, you find yourself working harder, even expanding your client or customer base, and still not making any money.  You lack balance in your life because you are putting in so many hours — but for what?  Or it may be that you’ve realized there are roadblocks to progress within your company– sacred cows– that are limiting your ability to grow and prosper.

Fewer than 10% of all business develop and execute departmental (tactical) plans.  This is even harder to understand once you realize that these plans are where strategy blossoms into action. Does your experience follow these trends?  Let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you develop and execute an annual business plan?
  • Can you clearly define how your organization differentiates itself from its competition? Is it a real differentiation?
  • Do you develop departmental plans to work on the business, such as operations, sales, marketing, human resources, or manufacturing plans?

Now, by using the common-sense principles and guidance of the Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream book, you can help your organization move to the head of the class: you can be among those few visionary leaders who not only know where they want to go but have a solid, workable plan for getting there and putting the team in place to make it happen.

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