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Boyajian’s New Book Tackles Family Business Planning, Improving Generational Relationships |  May 09, 2021 (1 comment)


Carlsbad, CA—Business consultant and coach Bill Boyajian of Bill Boyajian Associates has seen pretty much everything when it comes to family business dynamics—enough to fill a book.

That’s exactly what he’s done, in between his consulting work and frequent speaking engagements in the industry. His forthcoming book, to be published this summer, addresses the most important things business owners need to know about both succession planning and, if it’s a multigenerational business, forging a solid present working relationship between multiple generations for the health of the business.

The Centurion caught up with Boyajian for a Q&A about his new book. Here are just a few of the issues it will address:

The Centurion: Family business succession planning has been an ongoing issue in the jewelry industry for years, so why suddenly write a book now? 

Bill Boyajian: Through my consulting and coaching practice with jewelers over the past decade, I began to see more and more frustration between generations trying to first work together, and second establishing a reasonable transition plan from the older to younger generation. 

I read everything I could about succession planning in order to advise my clients appropriately.  During the pandemic at the end of last year, I had a little more time and just started writing, not really knowing where it would go.  I started with articles I had written over the years, and it all came together in manuscript form rather quickly. 

Centurion: Is there a formula for a successful transition?  

Boyajian: There isn’t a “one size fits all” formula because every family and every family business is a little different.  But there are undeniable elements in every successful transition that must be met in order to orchestrate a smooth transition. Obviously, this is a lot of what my book is about.

Centurion: Are jewelry stores any different than other family businesses?  

Boyajian: In short, no.  My book is written to family business owners in any field.  A lot of my experience is with jewelry store owners and that certainly helps with my advisory work in our industry.  But all of the elements that lead to a smooth generational transition apply to any family business in all fields of endeavor.

Centurion: What are the most common hurdles an owner has to navigate during the process?

Boyajian: There are two main issues an owner has to wrap his or her head around.  One is the financial and estate planning process.  They have to get this right.  The other is the personal and emotional side of “letting go” of a business where a lot of an owner’s self-esteem is involved.  

Combined with this is the handling of family members, usually children, one of which may work in the business while others may not.  Family dynamics are crucial in orchestrating a successful transition.

Centurion: You’ve often said that nobody is immortal and every business owner is going to transition out of the business someday, one way or another. But for some, that day is still far off and their more pressing issue is family dysfunction that threatens the business. What steps does the book address to fix that?  

Boyajian: I give myriad examples of what I have seen and experienced in my work with dozens of controlling owners—meaning the older generation who own a controlling interest in the business.  In our industry, it is usually a husband and wife, which also adds a different dimension to the dynamics of not running the family business like you raise and nurture a family.

Centurion: Are there families and businesses where the dysfunction is too far gone to fix, or is there always a way back to a productive and hopefully loving relationship?  

Boyajian: I’ve run into a couple rather ugly situations where I had to throw my hands up and press very hard to get resolution.  Unfortunately, sometimes my best efforts have not been good enough because the pain and hurt that has built up over many years—often between a father and son—are too ingrained to remedy.  

Sometimes a transition takes place only when the older generation dies or becomes incapable of continuing to run the business due to serious health concerns.

Centurion: What are the most common mistakes you see in transition planning?  

Boyajian: Obstinance of the controlling owner and an unwillingness to let go, complacency in the younger generation, an inability or unwillingness of one or both generations to compromise, a lack of preparedness and maturity of the younger generation, and poor communication and differing expectations of both generations.

Centurion: What are the most common financial issues you see in transition planning in this industry?  

Boyajian: Some jewelers in retirement age do not have the financial ability to retire comfortably, so we have to work on the business to improve it and allow them to put more money away for retirement.  

Centurion: Is that different than other industries? 

Boyajian: Every industry faces similar problems.  Often, a big portion of an owner-entrepreneur’s wealth is tied up in the business.  Every owner needs to monetize what they can out of the business in order to retire comfortably.  I have a whole chapter in the book dedicated to the owner’s ability to retire and all the considerations that must take place.

Centurion: When is it ok to set up a transition plan yourself and when is it better to let a professional guide the process?  

Boyajian: When people (usually owners) contact me, they are often near the end of what I call the “working together” phase.  This is often after 10 or 15 years of working with their son or daughter.  

Often what I have to do is get to know each generation really well and advise both on what is best for each.  My goal is usually to get them to the point of working with their attorney and CPA to formulate a written agreement on the elements that will guide the transition.

Centurion: When will your book be published? Are you taking pre-orders?

Boyajian: It will be printed in June and available for distribution in July. Anyone who wants to pre-order a book can write to me, order a book on my website by the end of July, or order it through in either hard copy or electronically by the end of July.

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Comments (1):

Bravo Bill!

By Craig Danforth on May 11th, 2021 at 4:46pm

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