Monday, January 28, 2013

Family Business Crisis Planning

      I spent one morning last week with 53 family business owners and came away from the experience encouraged that there are small and family business leaders that are smarter and have more foresight than nearly half of all big business executives.
      That is assuming the best guess estimate that only about 45 to 55 percent of big organizations have a complete operational/communication/continuity-recovery crisis plan in place and ready to use.
       The Family Business Center of the University of Louisville School of Business has an excellent on-going program for family business leaders and they invited me to present a workshop on crisis prevention and crisis management planning.
       Family businesses face the same potential problems and business disruptions that any other business does, but they have a couple of unique issues that non-family organizations don't.
       When several family members share ownership and operational responsibilities there is the added potential for intra-family feuds and disagreements.  And, while all businesses need to have a succession plan, a family business succession plan is not only critical, but it must be carefully considered and shared with all the family members likely affected.
       If the head of the family business dies unexpectedly and has not prepared his/her heirs with the succession plan, there can be turmoil and bitter feelings that can destroy what's left of the business and family relationship.

      To learn more about the U of L Family Business Center visit:
and for help with your Family Business Crisis Plan: .  

Earthquake Drill February 7

     February 7 is the 201st anniversary of the 1812 earthquake that levelled New Madrid, Missouri.
     The New Madrid Fault shakes parts of seven or more states from time to time and is an ever present reminder that every business and every other organization should be prepared for the inevitable disasters, including earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding, depending on where you live, work and serve.

     An estimated two-million people in the South and Midwest will take part in the Feb. 7 earthquake drill, just part of Earthquake Awareness Month.

    You can learn more at

     Where ever you live and work, there is the possibility of some combination of natural disasters and you can develop a plan to help your business or school or not-for-profit get through it and return to normal or near normal operations.

      Every organization should have three crisis plans: (1) an operational crisis plan -- who does
what and how when the fire alarm sounds or other disaster strikes; (2) a communication plan -- who speaks for the organization, who decides what will be said and when and how; (3) and, a continuity/recovery plan that outlines how you will maintain work/service while the crisis is being managed, and how you will recover and return to the new normal once the crisis is past.

      In the best of all worlds, those three plans are integrated into one broad, flexible road map with a designated team trained and practiced with those plans.  A half-day, custom table-top exercise at least once a year is the icing on the crisis planning cake and the team at the Institute for Crisis Management can help you with most of that.