What It Takes To Successfully Build And Sell A Family Business With Randy Long And Ellen Long

TTD 22 | Family Business

 

Handling a business is tough already. How much more if you’re running a family business where business tends to get in the way of family and vice versa? How do you keep that balance? In today’s episode, Dr. Patty Ann Tublin interviews Randy Long and Ellen Long to discuss the unique challenges of handling a family business and how to overcome them. Randy is the CEO of Long Business Advisors, LLC, while Ellen is the co-founder and consultant. Together, they help business owners build and sell profitable, fun, and family-oriented companies. Join this episode as they take us inside the intricacies of operating a family business as well as planning for that eventual exit—one that is best for everyone.

Listen to the podcast here

 

What It Takes To Successfully Build And Sell A Family Business With Randy Long And Ellen Long

I could not be more excited for this episode because we have a father and daughter team for you to learn from, but before I introduce you to our guests, make sure you like, comment, share and subscribe to this show. Without further ado, let me introduce you to Randy Long and his daughter, Ellen Long, which I am so excited about.  

Let me tell you a little bit about Ellen. She works with her father to help build and sell family-oriented companies. She has also given a TEDx Talk called The Journey to Enough: Your Minimum Viable Happiness and she won the Women to Watch Award for the Leadership Class in Wilmington in 2013. She is a powerhouse that we can learn from.

Randy is the CEO of Long Business Advisors and he is the creator of the Bulletproof Exit Process. He has written two books. He is an attorney and CFP. He pretty much can help any family business exit on their terms where they can take the money and still maintain their relationships. Make sure you buckle up because Ellen and Randy are going to take us for a ride. Welcome and thank you so much for being a guest on this show.

It is our pleasure.

We are here to learn because this show is all about personal and business relationships. When you have a family business, they say that weddings and real estate bring out the worst in people. I have heard that. Right up there are the family business dynamics. Take us wherever you like. Start from the beginning or the end. We are here to listen.

We love family businesses because we are one of them. One of our big goals is helping family businesses relationally, which is your expertise. You are even better than we are, but one of the goals we always say is we want the family to be able to get together for Thanksgiving and have a wonderful time together. What happens a lot of time in family business relationships is you have your family and then you have the business.

A lot of times, the business gets into the family dynamics and it becomes a very chaotic space. We want the family to help the business and the business to also help the family. It should be a symbiotic relationship where both parties are winning because we truly believe families can help each other the most. That is what we try to do.

When you say families can help each other the most, tell us a little bit more about that.

I think about my family. My siblings and I have helped each other write resumes for grad school.

You are 1 of 5, is that right?

TTD 22 | Family Business
Bulletproof Your Exit: How to Prepare Your Business and Your Family for a Successful Business Exit

Yes, second of five. We help each other edit and write resumes. We help each other with business ideas. When you have a strong family culture and you all grow up in it, we all are entrepreneurial-minded in some way. When you have a strong family culture that also is about helping each other and growing each other, there are strong ties. You also know each other so well, so you can either be positive or negative. We try to make that as positive as we can.

Randy, jump in here.

My son, Micah, is a tax attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina. He and Ellen worked on both of the books that we wrote. It was joint writing because it was a great way. I would download the information. I would talk about it. They would take notes and write up the draft. We would work through it, rewrite it, and do all sorts of things. Even the books were a family affair. We do love family businesses. As a lawyer, I practiced for 30 years and my whole market was family businesses. We did the estate planning and administration, and then transactional work for the businesses themselves.

We got to see lots of estate plans go full cycle. A lot of times, lawyers draft things that sometimes the clients want but do not understand what they need. They draft the stuff and then maybe they do not do administration or somebody else does it later. They do not see the back end of their work on the planning on the front. I have seen so many of these things.

Part of what I’ve learned over those years is that you have to set the family up in the front end of those estate plans, gifting arrangements, and everything else to make sure that the whole family has benefited and understands how it works and why it is that way. We are always trying to look ahead. Part of what we do is to eliminate conflict that we see that would be in the future as a result of decisions that are made by the business owner or the father and mother for estate planning purposes. We do not like situations where people are injecting conflict to come and then when they are gone, everything blows up.

Tell us a little bit about the front end versus the backend.

A lot of what we do when we are doing exit planning work on the front end is the defense. We want to have the estate planning done in place. We want to know what is going to happen in the event of the death or disability of the owner. We want the business and family to know. On the front end of that, the estate plan is done. The back end of an estate plan is when the owner dies, so you get the execution of the plan.

It is also about structure. What is your business structure set up as? Looking down the road, how is the kid going to think about this? We try to put ourselves in each person’s shoes. If I am the daughter or the son that is looking to take over the business, “What are my feelings about this? What am I thinking?” We interview every party and try to say, “What are your plans or dreams for the future?” We’re seeing where there is alignment or conflict and trying to get ahead of that, having those conversations ahead of time, and putting the structure in place.

A lot about it is communication and that is so important. A lot of times, in family businesses, their biggest struggle is having that open and honest communication along the way so that the kid is not harboring bitterness or resentment for what is happening, or the parent does not feel like they are getting overtaken by their kid who wants to take the business over. There are a lot of components in that and part of it is trying to help them flush that out.

Both of you mentioned the kid. We know that when there are kids, it becomes complicated. Let’s not forget that kids have spouses that change the dynamic. Give us a story of when something went awry, not because you didn’t set it up and structure it right, but if the personal family dynamic is toxic, it is almost impossible for that toxicity to not infiltrate the family business.

A family business should be a symbiotic relationship where both parties are winning because families can help each other the most.

The DeVoses started Amway. All politics aside, I know for a fact that Betsy DeVos has said to someone that she and her husband feel very strongly that in leaving the legacy of the business, monies, inheritance and estate planning, they would be heartbroken if they thought the monies that are inherited change the family dynamics, and also changes their values because they have very strong Christian values. Normally it does, and we all know it takes three generations to destroy a business. Share with us by illustrating where you came in and rescued where somebody else did a terrible job or not so good job, and it was the Longs to the rescue.

One of the cases we took several years ago was a situation where we had a second-generation business at that time. We were brought in by the CPA firm to help the second-generation owner transition out of the business. The dad who’s also the founder of the whole business had left shares to each of his three kids, but the most shares are to the kid that was running the company.

I’m already hearing the dynamics. If you want to destroy sibling relationships, give one more than the others.

That is one thing there. There are a couple of different ways to look at that too, but in this particular situation, I had taken the estate planning documents and I would review them all before I had the first meeting with the family. I sat down and I talked through what their plan was now. I said, “I know you do not intend this but I do not know if you are aware that your current plan says that your son is going to inherit 90% of your net worth and your daughter is going to inherit about 10%.” That is the plan that is in place. They work with a great CPA and a great law firm, but nobody was monitoring it and keeping up with it so it had gotten old.

Do you mean it was established years ago?

Yes. A lot of times, what happens is when you have a kid working in the business, their inheritance will be the business and then the other kids inherit everything else. The problem was the business had tripled from the time that they had done the first estate plan. While it might have been 50-50 when they did it, it is tripled and all the other monies had stayed pretty constant. The 50-50 now is 90-10. It is not that we find that people have made mistakes. It is that you have to keep up with it and pay attention to how things have changed.

How often should you review the plan?

We would typically say every 3 to 5 years.

Is that aligned with the exponential growth you would expect in a business?

It depends on how fast the companies have grown. For a number of the companies that we tend to work with, we need to review planning every year because we are trying to take advantage of changes, tax laws and all the things because it is worth too much money. They have to think further ahead than what most small and medium businesses do. It is more fun to work with small and medium business owners than it is with the bigger ones.

TTD 22 | Family Business
Family Business: We want the family to help the business and the business to also help the family.

 

Why is that?

A lot of times, what happens in medium-sized businesses especially is they start their company and they have a local CPA and lawyer that they do business with. Maybe they went to high school with them. They grow the business with this council. If I am a CPA firm or the law firm and my market is small businesses, when the company crosses a certain threshold, I am out of my element as the advisor. The owner does not recognize it. To the professionals, they want to hold onto their good clients, so they ignore them.

A good example of this is one of the clients that I had for some years. I had been telling them, “You need a new CPA firm. You left this CPA firm behind years ago. They are going to hurt us one day.” For three years, I forced them to put it in the minutes. We come along and they get a $4 million tax bill, penalties, interest and all that stuff.

Now, they brought me back in and they are like, “You were right. Can you help us fix this?” I come in, I hire a tax attorney to come in and work with us on this whole thing. We were in the meeting and the CPA firm was sitting across the table. I am on one end, the tax attorney is on the other, and the family is on the other side.

I say, “Let’s do what we have to do first so we can start planning.” The tax attorney then says, “CPA firm, you are fired.” We had them there to let them know that this tax bill was their fault. My clients were not going to sue them because that is not who they are. We let them go. We brought in the team and we got the work done. This wasn’t super hard because the company was growing and it grew to $25 million in sales. At that point in time, the company’s accounting needed to flip over to accrual accounting. The CPA firm didn’t know that because they didn’t work in that large of a market.

They call you The Axeman Cometh?

The Axeman does come sometimes.

I am guilty of that too. Sometimes, I am like, “This person has got to go. They are not meeting the needs.”

Part of our process requires us to vet the professionals. A good part of the time, we keep them all. Sometimes, we do not because they have been left behind and it is pretty critical.

That is a classic case of what got you from there to here won’t get you from here to there. They serve that purpose. I heard this or read this somewhere, but I have been using this and speaking to groups about this. It is something along the lines of, “Give the employee a graceful exit, so they can find their greatness.”

As business owners, we have the power and right to make just our own decisions.

Sometimes, we are not even replacing them. We are asking them to be a part of a bigger process instead of having the client go to the professionals and say, “I need this,” having the professionals come in and say, “We are doing a planning session. Let’s brainstorm. What does this company need? How can we get them from here to there?” Part of it is bringing in professionals more into the process than they were before because some of them have plenty of expertise to do it. They just have not been asked to do it.

Too often, it is a weird process because, as business owners, we have the power and the right to make our own decisions. We tell the CPA firm and the law firm what we want them to do. The truth is most of the time, the business owner is not qualified to say what they need. The law firm and the accounting firm does not do them a favor by doing what they are asked to do, even though it does limit their liability because they gave them what they asked for. It is part of the reason that we do not do this work.

I did this work for some years in my law firm but I found it constricting because the company hires us and then we work with each of the shareholders typically. Most of the time, they are family but a lot of times, they are not. They are other people. We work with them and then we want everybody seated at the table and figure out, “What would we want if we were them and what do they think they want? Can I help them work through that?” We then build a plan out of what we think is going to be the most likely to provide success for everybody at the table.

It is about being a servant leader. It is not self-serving. It is serving the client as opposed to ringing the cash register.

It is nice for them to be able to have a chance to not have conflicts. The question is, “Who is your client?” If my client is the main owner, then everybody else needs their own counsel. Maybe even the firm needs its own counsel. I do not like to send people into their corners to come out and fight. When I am ready for the lawyers, I will call them.

What did Shakespeare say about the lawyers? “The first thing we should do is kill all of them.” What do you do when you see a dynamic where there is a power struggle or a power play in a family? It is not for either one of you to weigh in on it. There might not be legally or financially the right answer. It might be what is in the best interest of the company, but all roads can lead to Rome.

Certain parties want different things. Part of the thing we do is try to bring reality in. For example, “How much should I pay my kid? How much would my kid make on the market versus how much they are making in my family business?” They are trying to bring reality to the kids that, “This is what you would be worth on the market. This is what you get because you are a part of this family business.” Also, for the business owner, it is about being a third party for them and having them say, “This is what I am thinking, what are your thoughts on that?” We’re trying to bring everything out into the open, bring the communication, and bring reality checks to both parties on, “What is normal for our business? Am I over-reaching? Am I under-reaching?”

Family dynamics are interesting. We usually find the kid is either overpaid or underpaid and almost never correctly paid. “How much shares should I give to my kid over time?” Another thing we talked about a lot is, “I want to transition it to my child. How do I bring them up in the business?” Helping them build almost leadership plans for the kids as they come up. What does it look like when they are CEO? We talked to the child about, “You are going to run a different business than your parents ran. This is a different world. You are going to have to do things differently, but we also want you to honor the family legacy in that.”

There are so many things and part of what we do is lay it all on the table, have this openness, and then also bring some reality checks on, “This is what we see in the business world and when we work with family businesses. Here are some examples of good and bad things that we have seen.” A lot of it is bringing in expertise and research for all the families that we have worked with.

What happens when you have either a husband and a wife or with what I am working with now, two brothers, and they have a different idea of what they want to give to their children? I also want to ask you about when you let children know, not the family business, but the wealth. I had a very wealthy person who was about to have a sit down with his kids to say, “We are rich.” I am like, “Timeout. Your children are not rich at all. You and your wife are wealthy.” Psychologically, if you want to kill your kids’ ambition, tell them that they are inheriting a ton of money, but that is younger children. Talk a little bit about the dynamics between the owners when they are at odds because they genuinely feel differently. How do you maneuver that?

TTD 22 | Family Business
Family Business: Build a plan out of what you think is going to be the most likely to provide success for everybody at the table.

 

It becomes quite the problem, especially when you have got siblings that are running a business and they are co-owners at 50-50. That is a nightmare. I have had some of those where the father stayed in business until he was 85, running it. The kids are 60 or 62, and then the dad dies. They do not have a history of running the company and they are almost ready to retire themselves. Now, they are at war because they are fighting over who is in charge.

It is very sad, but back to the 50-50 thing, we try to come in and paint a picture of them about how they are likely to do separately. What are their options? Nobody will say, “What if we split the company up or what if one buys out the other?” We present that to everybody because if they are having a difficult time getting along, we want them to understand what the other side of that is going to look like if they won’t go to their corners and come out fighting.

The only people that are going to win in that situation are the lawyers. We want to get ahead of it and show them the risks ahead of where they are going, how it is going to end, and what are the options between here and there that we could embrace for a better outcome. We try to show them the roads that are available and the possibilities of options, “What could they do? Should we go and sell the company because you cannot get along?”

Sometimes, we should sell it or bring the kids in, whoever is going to be the heir apparent to run it. Sometimes, it is clear who that is going to be and we want the owners out so they retire. Sometimes the company is built on a couple of different sets of skillsets and so we split the company in half and let each one take.

That is probably easy.

It is a fairly easy one. It is funny that a lot of the business owners that have been running jointly, it is a little scary for them to go out and take it themselves. That is a little trepidation, but if there are clean-cut possibilities without damaging the revenues of the business, especially if there are logical customers that would go on each side, there are some easier ones than harder ones.

I also tell them that it is better for them to resolve this before it gets to the next generation. It is because there are going to be more kids and more lawyers. That is how families in that third generation that we are talking about before tend to lose money. The second generation either builds the company or sells it. It’s one of the two, lots of times. The third one blows the money or the company or both.

One solution we saw was the parents were over their children and then they realized, “This is a terrible idea,” and they had the uncle. One person was under his uncle and the other person was on under his uncle, so they split instead of doing parent-child. That worked well for them. Sometimes it is, “Who would work better under this person? What are the roles and responsibilities that they are good at?”

One question we always ask them is a Dan Sullivan question, “What has to happen in the next three years for you to be happy with your progress?” Having them sit down and say, “I would love it if the business did this. I want to do this.” A lot of times, they do not ever say that to each other. It is getting them to say, “This is what success looks like for me.” We then try to come up with creative solutions for that.

What if their answers are different?

Bring reality to the situation.

Once they articulate and the other person is able to hear what their view of their future is or what success looks like to them, then it is not a personal attack. Now, it is just, “This is what I always wanted. This is what I would love to see in my own future. This is mine and let me hear yours. Let’s see if there is a way that we can work that out so that we are both able to have what we want.”

Back to Ellen’s point and yours, communication is a big deal and we stand between them so that we can hear what they say and then interpret it. We do that for the lawyers. The lawyers talk about something and then after the lawyers leave, they are like, “What did he say? Can you go over that meeting for me again?” It is like the tax attorney for that $4 million tax bill that came in. After the tax attorney left, my client grabbed me by the arm and said, “Do not ever let me be in a meeting with him by myself.”

It is like the tax attorneys and the medical profession. They have their own language. In some ways, it is a power play because if you do not understand me, then you will always need me. It is a bizarre thing. What have you seen as the top 1 or 2 issues that come up that prevent an ideal exit? Whatever you think that looks like. I understand you are there to facilitate the communication. What did they say? “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make them drink.” You could be the best in the world and some people are not going to listen.

One of the problems is the owner refuses to make himself unnecessary to the business. Part of what we tell the clients is that we want to help you create the business in such a way that it is always ready for an exit and that is whether or not you would leave it to your kids, sell it, keep it or sell it to an insider.

I do not care but a business that is well-run is easy, lucrative and fun. Secondly, a well-run business that does not need you is also worth more money. A lot of times, the owner’s ego is in the way because they think the company cannot be run without them. If it cannot be run without them for some true reason, then they do not really have a company. They have a job.

It is getting an owner to understand that our goal for you is to make you unnecessary to this company. What we like to do for the people that want to stay on, we like to get them to the place where they are looking to the future, traveling, networking, and doing all this stuff as a PR for the business, but they are not working in the business.

They are working on the business. Here is what I have seen though, especially when it is the old man running the business. It could be the ego where they cannot let go even when they verbalize that they want to let go and/or it is their only why or purpose. That seems to be difficult to disentangle.

It is their identity.

That is usually the kind of person that has a business that is going to take a while anyway to work that person out. You can also start working on them towards the idea that they can use their energy, intellect and contacts for so many other things. They can start another business. They can do things for the grandkids. It depends on where they are in life and what they have, but our life does not consist of just what we do every day.

Choose your heart. I love that statement because it is either going to be hard now or it is going to be hard later. To do this planning or strategy and be open and honest in your communication, it is hard. It takes a lot of courage for a business owner to stand up to the people they need to stand up to, have those hard conversations, and do the planning. It takes a lot of energy, time, and effort to do the things that we are talking about. We believe that it is worth it by 100 times because instead, you can choose your heart now, but your heart is coming later if you do not.

TTD 22 | Family Business
Family Business: The second generation either builds the company or sells it. Lots of times, the third one is to blow the money or the company.

 

The other big mistake we see is business owners saying, “I do not want to deal with it now. I will deal with it later.” They kick that can down the road, and then it later becomes much harder than it would have been now, but they do not want to do the hard now. They do not want to stand up to their employees. They do not want to make the hard choices now, so they end up having to make hard choices in the future because of it, or they let the next generation fight it out and they have to make the hard because they refuse to.

That leads us to two other issues. I am sure you see this if you are around a table with other professionals because I am notorious for, “I will speak truth to power.” That is my job. Many people say it but they do not execute it because they want to keep their job. I have said things to CEOs and I will go home and tell my husband. He is like, “You said, what? What did he say?” He laughed and I reminded him. I said, “I told you when you hired me as your coach or consultant. I will speak truth to power.”

I have a guy now. It is a financial firm. There is a senior managing partner emeritus and there is a new one. The senior one is constantly undermining the new one. For the next part of the meeting, I am calling them all out on it because the sidebar conversations are not working. I said, “You are never going to be successful as long as this guy, the heir apparent who claims he wants to be successful, undermines you and sends out emails, returns calls and talks to the lawyers.” You are at the meetings and people are like, “You are saying what everybody else is thinking.” How do you handle it when you see that it is not done? You choose your heart. We know emotions that are repressed get amplified. You are not just choosing your heart, you are choosing to make your heart hard. What do you do when you hear the BS flying?

As we mentioned, we tell everybody when we come in that what we are going to do is we are going to bring everything into the light. When we say everything into the light, that means we are going to put it on the table. Your whole world is about trust. I understand that. Ours is very much about that because when we are hired, we always tell them, “When we come in, we are going to know more about you than your lawyer, doctor, priest or pastor, and sometimes your spouse,” because we delve into each of the parts of their lives, so we learn and see the big picture. We put it all together. That makes issues jump off the page at us, which we have to bring up and deal with.

Because you delve in, many times, there is a discrepancy within somebody. How do you handle that? There is a common denominator, but there are discrepancies.

Let’s face it. We are all human. We all have some inconsistencies in the things we do, compared to what we think or what we believe. Nobody lives perfectly. Sometimes, I have had to ask people to stop having affairs. I have had to ask them to forgive their kid and the kids to forgive the parents. One of the things that break my heart is when I am dealing with people, it is very common for some parents to tell me that one of their kids has no relationship with them and they cannot see the grandkids. I cannot tell you how much weeping I have had in my office over that issue with families. I try to always push this back to our clients to let them know that they want to preserve their family relationships above anything and everything else. If they are broken to a certain extent, it is very hard to recover them.

They can but both parties and their spouses that are in the blood must start with wanting to.

There has to be forgiveness. It is not that I just have to forgive for it to work on both sides. Both sides have to admit to their own wrong and ask for forgiveness for their part. Whether it is 90-10 or 50-50 or whatever it is, I have never seen it where there is no fault on one or the other sides.

Did you ever hear my ten-minute talk? I’m talking about the Genius Network that Randy and I are a part of. That is the whole thing about your perspective for the truth. Also, what is so important is I tell people all the time, “If you think somebody is ever going to come around and see your perspective by claiming that you are 100% right and they are 100% wrong, you are waiting for the good dough, Even if you take responsibility for 5% or 2%, that is the only way you can start to move the needle.

The trust thing and the family thing, the combination of that can be fireworks. It can also be total beauty. When we work with clients, sometimes we will work with them for as short as six months. A lot of times, it is 2, 3 or 4 years, and we have some in the 8th or 9th year with us that do not want to let us go. Once you help them resolve certain things, the family calms and settles down, then you can start doing the planning that benefits everybody.

Our job is to give you the options and tell which one we think is the best. But ultimately, it’s your choice at the end of the day.

That example I told you about where the parents were leaving 90% to the son and 10% to the daughter, we cleaned all that up. We have worked on cleaning up the relationship between the spouses. We discovered that the women in the family were not sure they were even going to be taken care of and what would happen if their husbands died because it was a family business down the male line.

Removing all these pieces, those people have come back to me and said, “My marriage has never been better,” because there was this thing that was there that the males didn’t even realize, but it was real to the females. We tend to be loved by the females after. They do not want to open their family to anybody, but once this is going forward and they realize that a good part of what we are there for is to protect them, make sure that they understand what’s going on, and how things are going to be for them, the planning is for everybody.

What I have come across is if you are perceived as being paid by the male owner, then you are representing them, so they do not know whether they can trust you or not. As you know, Ellen, once women know they can trust you, we are incredibly loyal.

He has not said this before but a lot of times, it is not just the wives. There are shareholders or owners. Once they trust you, they will say, “Whatever happens, we are keeping you. You are on the ride with us now.” That is 100% true.

What happens when there is a situation where the best interest of the firm and/or the family is not the choice that is chosen? How do you handle that?

It depends on how things are set up. Sometimes, the best interest of the family is not the best interest of the company and vice versa. Sometimes they both align well. If you cannot align both of these so that the choices are good for the whole thing, then you choose the family. There is no doubt about it because we can all start and build businesses, but once the family is broken, it is broken. Even if everybody goes on, remarries and does all this stuff, it does not matter. They are going to carry these wounds that are going to impact them for the rest of their life for generations. We want them to always lean on the family.

When we start, we say, “Our job is to give you the options and tell you which one we think is the best.” Ultimately, it is their choice at the end of the day. They have the responsibility for their family and their business. We are here to advise them and give them our best. “This is what we think is best, but here are the pros and cons for each of the decisions.”

Our job is to help them see the ramifications, the consequences, and the pros and the cons of the options, then it is up to them. We cannot take personal responsibility for what they decide to do. We never make decisions for them. Our job is not to make their decisions for them. Our job is to help them through it.

We do know we have all experienced it where you do all that and then they say, “If you were in my shoes, what would you do?”

That is what we always answer. Our answers are this, “If I were you, knowing what I know about you and this whole situation, this is what I would do and this is why. There are these other options but I would choose this one if it were me.” We make it clear every time.

TTD 22 | Family Business
Family Business: It takes a lot of courage for a business owner to stand up to the people they need to stand up to.

 

Since we have a father-daughter team, and when you agreed to do this, it made my heart sing. Tell us how this came about. How are you working together? Are you even in the same location? Are you doing everything remotely? Randy, you have five children. Are all of your other children work with you? Tell us about your family dynamic and business.

I will let Ellen tell from her side.

After college, I moved to Wilmington. I worked for a couple of consulting firms, moonlighted around, and then decided I wanted to go into financial planning. I started looking around in investment firms. It so happened that dad walked into the place I was working and I told him I was looking for financial firms. He had a small family office in California. He said, “If you want to do finance, then you should come work for me.”

I went to all my business mentors because I had other job offers. I was like, “What should I do?” They all said, “Ellen, if I were you, you have a great relationship with your dad. He is going to care about you. He is going to invest way more into you than anyone else,” which is also why we love family business. I started working with him in the finance firm for a couple of years, but I loved business consulting. I got my MBA and I love business. He had done business consulting through the law firms and the wealth management firms, but it got to the point where we were doing business consulting, so we decided to start a company.

Several years ago, we started just a consulting firm. I probably work 90-10, 90 in the consulting firm and I still help in the investment firm to keep up. It is a family business. Sibling-wise, it has been fun. I feel like all my siblings have moonlighted in one kind or the other. My brother came for a year and he worked with us before he went to law school. My other brother became an engineer, so he came in and did all of our tech stuff, videos and set up our office.

I am the only one who stuck it out but everyone has done their time, at least in some capacity or another. My sister is a fantastic editor. She was the one who edited all the books. That is what I say about when you have a family that has a culture, talented, growing, learning and has good relationships, there are so many more options that you have at your fingertips. We have tried to use all the gifts and talents we possibly can.

Randy, as a dad, what are you feeling when your daughter says that?

I am thankful to the good Lord that He has given us the chance to have five kids. My wife was a physical therapist. She decided to stay home with the kids because she did not want somebody else raising them, so she did that. She is the most gifted little kid teacher I have ever seen in my life. She is incredible.

Did you homeschool them?

All the youngest ones were homeschooled through the eighth grade. We then kicked them out to be sent to the Christian high school. They were ready to go and we wanted them to have the experience of being in a school. We were super busy. We were always skiing. Everybody played sports all the time and we were a very active family. They were always around people. It wasn’t like they were isolated.

A well-run business is easy, lucrative, and fun. A well-run business that doesn’t need you is also worth more money.

That is a misconception about homeschooling. It is becoming more accepted.

There are millions of kids now that are homeschooled. It has become a big deal.

There are a lot of reasons for that.

We also taught each other. I taught Economics class for a group of high schoolers when I was in college for the summer because I was an Econ Accounting Business major. They were very creative too in how we did it. I came home for a summer and taught a homeschool class to ten kids doing Economics, and my brother was a part of that. My sister taught English class to a bunch of homeschoolers when she was working. She did it at night. It has been fun.

We would hire college professors to teach our kids. Because I was self-employed my whole career, when everybody else was in school, we would go skiing or to Hawaii.

You didn’t have to pay during peak season.

There are big benefits there but I love the whole family thing. We are not perfect by any stretch and we have our own little conflicts here and there but we love each other and we are able to forgive. We love spending time together. What Ellen says is true, we love being together with our kids and with our grandkids, and they love spending time with each other. We are blessed as a family. It gives us a chance to be able to share some of the things that we learned that help makes us successful. We can share with other business owners and their families. Sometimes, they have problems that jump off the page that we are like, “This is not going to end well.”

I just want to go back because you mentioned how wealthy business owners and families transfer that knowledge to their kids. That is something that dad and mom did a good job of. We think it is so important along the way that they are learning how to manage finances or financial literacy. Also, how the family sees finances is very important because there is so much behind money. It is not just a dollar bill. There are emotions and lessons. Does the family consider stewardship?

When you teach your kids about stewardship and how this money is a tool for the things that we care about, and as you said, “It is our money first and if we decide to give some of it to you, that is our decision, but we are not guaranteeing that you are going to get a certain amount.” Even if the kids do have trust, they are learning how to manage it along the way with someone else helping them. If we think they are responsible then we get to give the trust over to them because they have shown and proven that they know how to use money, that they are good stewards of the money.

So much of it is the lessons and the values that you are transferring to them along the way, and you are also giving them the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes. The last thing we want is for a kid to have no responsibility at all and all of a sudden, they have a huge chunk of cash. That is the worst-case scenario. To me, it is all about how we transfer the lessons, knowledge and values of the family along the way so that when those moments come, they are ready and responsible for it.

TTD 22 | Family Business
Family Business: We’re all human. We all have some inconsistencies in the things we do compared to what we think.

 

I am so glad you brought that up because my second book is on women and money called Money Can Buy You Happiness: Secrets Women Need to Know to Get Paid What They Are Worth. What I did since then, I have spoken to some other financial groups at their events, where I created five money personalities and it is all about emotion. A dollar bill is just a commodity, but it is what represents you. It is how you value it. Are you a spender? Are you a saver? Are you a worrier about it?

There are so many emotional dynamics to money. Couples and businesses fight about money all the time and many times, it has nothing to do about the money. To wrap up here, I have a question for each of you. I usually have two, but I will narrow it down to one. What is the last book that you re-read and why?

Atomic Habits is one of my favorites. Having the right habits in your life is so important. I love that book.

He was a student of BJ Fogg, Tiny Habits.

The last book that I re-read was the Book of Judges in the Bible because I try to read the Bible every year, from beginning to end. I do not make it every single year but most of the years, I make it. I am finishing the Book of Judges right now, which is a fascinating book.

What is the one fascinating thing?

It is being able to see how Israel went through this whole cycle. They would serve the Lord and the Lord would prosper them, and then they would turn their backs and serve other gods, and then the Lord would have to take them down. They would be under somebody else’s boot and then they would cry out to the Lord. During that period of time, he would send them a judge to free them and re-establish them. It would be nice if we would learn the lessons instead of having to go through them.

Tell our audience how they can find out more and learn about you. Where you would like them to go?

LongBusinessAdvisors.com is our website, so we have a contact page and all of that. That is the best place to go for most of our stuff. We have a Facebook page. We are pretty boutique so a lot of our stuff is word of mouth. We do podcasts and videos. That is all on the website too. We have a YouTube channel, so check us out.

Thank you so much, and that concludes this episode. As I promised, Randy and Ellen Long did not disappoint. Make sure you comment, share and subscribe to this show. Until next time.

 

Important Links

 

About Randy Long

TTD 22 | Family BusinessRandy is CEO of Long Business Advisors, LLC, creator of the Bulletproof Exit Process and author of two books, The BraveHeart Exit, 7 Steps to Creating Your Family Business Legacy and Bulletproof your Exit. His unique business perspective, built upon an extensive background of more than 30 years of experience in law and finance, enables him to help business owners build and transition or sell their business, allowing them to create a family business legacy.

A graduate of Liberty University and the San Joaquin College of Law, Randy has practiced law in the areas of estate planning and business planning since 1989. In addition, he earned his certified financial planner (CFP) professional designation from the University of Southern California and has owned a wealth management firm since 1985.

He is a member of WealthCounsel, Financial Planning Association, Business Enterprise, Inc. and the California Bar. For the past 25 years, he has served as a trustee and board member for several national Christian non-profit organizations. Randy understands the importance of family: he and his wife, Lydia, have five children. His firsthand knowledge of growing his own family business places him in an ideal position to help others.

 

About Ellen Long

TTD 22 | Family BusinessEllen helps business owners build and sell profitable, fun, and family oriented companies. She is currently a mentor at TekMountain, a tech incubator space in Wilmington, and a board member of Apay Financial, an app for managing student loans. Ellen is also a Women to Watch award winner, a graduate of the Leadership Wilmington Class of 2013, and a TEDx speaker: The Journey To Enough: Finding Your Minimum Viable Happiness She earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from North Greenville University, her M.B.A. from Liberty University, and her CFP® from Boston University.

Book a free session

Book a free session