Family Business Consulting

Services Offered:

Business / Family Transition Consulting:

Transitions are a natural part of life and the life cycle of individuals, families and businesses but they are also periods of turmoil, strong emotions and vulnerability. Transitions in family-owned and closely-held businesses are especially difficult and dangerous due to the overlap between the family system and business system. The intersection of these two powerful systems insures that there are a variety of transitions embedded in the shift from one generation to the next and this often leads families and their businesses to become “stuck” or “paralyzed. While this is a natural response to the increase in complexity of the systems it inevitably requires responses that have never been needed before and out of that need arises the “stuckness”. Ollum consultants work with executives, owners and family members to normalize the situation and create a plan that fits the unique needs of each family and business system. We work with clients to:

Re-story the past to open the present:

Transition is stressful and riddled with anxiety and this often means that old issues that have made family dynamics difficult often increase in intensity and frequency. We work to help the family see their unique story from a new perspective that often opens people to re-imagining their family story and therefore the possibilities for resolving issues and planning for the generational transfer of ownership, leadership and wealth.

Family Retreats:

Spending time together as a family is one of the most effective ways of demonstrating the primacy of the family relationships. By combining fun family time with facilitated discussions on crucial topics demonstrates the love, caring and effective action that can aid in the enhancement of the family dynamic and pen the path to legacy.

Next Generation Development:

Leadership and governance of the family business can seem overwhelming when you are not prepared. Education and experience in the family business may not be enough. Ollum Consulting helps next generation siblings and cousins discover why they want to own the family business together and rearticulate the vision, values and goals for their generation. The next generation cannot simply pick up the founder’s dream and run with it. They must have a dream of their own if the sibling partnership or cousin consortium is going to thrive.

Learning to think together:

Often for families, communication breaks down because each person is identified with his or her perspective or position on an issue and thus when that perspective is challenged it feels as though their “self” is under attack. This is especially true in our family. Forming adult to adult relationships between parents and adult children and between adult siblings or cousins is hard work. It is however, the foundation of a family’s ability to work together effectively over the long haul. For business families, it is not enough to be able to talk together they must be able to think and decide together. Ollum Consulting will work with family members to build the trust, communication skills and emotional intelligence necessary to being effective as a business family.

Articulate Succession Plans:

Choosing and developing a successor and the organization that will embrace him or her is the job of every CEO and usually the most important and difficult decision they are called on to make. But before they decide on a successor they must first decide if they sincerely want to step out of running the company they have spent a lifetime to build. If succession is going to work well the outgoing leader must have a vision of where purpose and meaning will be found in the next phase of life. Then a clear plan must be created for identifying and grooming the next leader. Also what organizational and relational issues must be dealt with to prepare the business and the family for the generational transfer of leadership and ownership.



Resolve Conflict:

Business families have chosen a path that few of the rest of us have to walk. They have chosen to work every day with their children, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. Many families have a difficult time being together without conflict for Thanksgiving dinner. Being together in business requires that each generation come together to agree on a new purpose for the family to remain in business together and to build business relationship where only family relationships once existed. Learning to deal with conflict in ways that do not perpetuate old family stereotypes and beliefs systems is difficult but not impossible. It often means uncovering and making conscious the belief or value that has been the foundation of our family communication style and role assignments perhaps for generations and regenerating it in new and more productive ways. Disagreement is an opening for the creation of something new if the parties can move out of their old and comfortable ways of avoiding resolution.

Business Family Wealth Consulting:

For families that own a business there are many financial issues to be dealt with over time. There are two financial issues that can threaten the very fabric of the family and everything they have worked for:

  1. How do we successfully transfer their “asset”, also known as their business successfully to the next generation. This is a huge question since over 70% of business owners have over 75% of their net worth tied up in their business. Unfortunately almost 90% of families fail to pass this asset successfully from the first to the third generation.
  2. In families that have been very successful and have grown family wealth through the generations the affluence itself becomes the issue. How does a family help individual members find and develop a purpose and passion that contributes to the family and the community even though they may never have to actually work for a living? How does a family of wealth encourage a culture of commitment, community, fiscal responsibility and entrepreneurship?

Develop Differentiation:

In the founding entrepreneur’s perspective his business and his family are really one entity. The roles of shareholder, board member and leader all reside in one person: the entrepreneur. The family roles of parent, child, sibling, in law are blended with business roles of manager, employee, shareholder and board member are interchangeable. In other words there are many relationships which must be “teased apart” to create individual entities where only fusion and confusion exists.

Part of this re-storying is for parent and offspring and siblings to begin to establish adult to adult relationships that are not dependent on familial role expectations.

Offspring must learn to separate “Dad” from “CEO”. Business roles of shareholder, board member, management and employee must be delineated from one another.

Our Process (Family)

Our relationship with the client is at the core of our work. We often hear that the relationship we build with our clients is what differentiates us from other consultants. We focus on creating a collaborative, transparent and authentic relationship in which the client feels deeply listened to and valued. We also honor our client relationship by always speaking our truth respectfully.

We work collaboratively with each client to custom design every consultation.


“When you start a new business you risk everything you have. Once you have become successful and wealthy, everything you have becomes the risk!”

-John Hughes, Ollum Consulting 2008



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