NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL, APRIL 18 2011 — Transferring a family business from one generation to the next is more than legal paperwork, accounting issues and a question of management. It is family and it can get messy.
Ms. Steinthal is the managing director of Scion Advisors, located in Napa. Over the last seven years, her firm has helped more than 100 wineries successfully hand down operations to the second and third generations.
She was a senior executive for Oracle and Lockheed Martin and played a lead role steering organizations through major transitions joint ventures and acquisitions, and launching new businesses regionally and globally.
In a perfect world, the succession plan is written into the original business plan. But in family businesses, this is often lacking.
Particularly, said Ms. Steinthal, in the wine industry, where many people are in it for the passion of the wine and may not think as much about the business side of things.
“Our specialty is being general management and helping people build relationships and good decision making practices,” she said.
Points she mentioned that are key to look at and think about are how do you develop leaders, being able to communicate about what each member of the family wants and believes in, and making sure the shareholders are aligned, on the same page and that the business is being built to support their goals and needs.
“We are general managers,” she said. “We run businesses and we bring the value of having a process for everyone to communicate and we have the experience in the organizational development arena.”
The prepared client is educated on the project, she said. Going to seminars and reading books on the subject before seeking help from an advisor will help the family.
She said after becoming educated on the process of succession planning, two major issues to take care of are having formal meetings set up to talk about the business either weekly, monthly or whatever is appropriate and having an estate plan in place that everyone is comfortable with.
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