The Key to Long-Term Shareholder Value, Part I
by Donald J. Jonovic, Ph.D.
Owners of closely held companies, by experience, inclination, necessity, and, often, personality, tend to focus on the short term. Most available waking hours are absorbed by immediate problems, sudden opportunities, annual profits and cash flows. Fortunately, a successful business can, in fact, be built this way. It happens every day.
Unfortunately, this focus on immediate challenges and rewards is definitely not the way to build the shareholder value of that successful business for the long-term.
Consider how this outlook affects transition. Few would doubt that a smooth ownership and management transition in a family firm can enhance the value of that firm to shareholders and potential buyers. Even so, in companies with a short-term focus, transition (when it’s thought about at all) is seen as an “event” in some distant future: “We’ll get to it when the problem arises.” This is wrong. Companies don’t suddenly decide to have a transition any more than a woman suddenly decides to give birth. Transition is a process. It is a way of going about things. More…
Why is the Top of Jim Coghlin’s Head Shiny?
Because He’s a Bright Guy
To not only let a 112-year-old family business prosper, but to increase sales volume by 20 times, you must be doing something right.
Jim Coghlin has grown the Worcester-based Coghlin Companies from $3 million to $60 million in his 30 years with the firm.
Coghlin stressed the importance of mentoring: not only from family executives, but also from an outside board and groups like the Young Presidents Association that let newer managers “Bare your soul in confidential high-level discussions.”
Now, with two of his own children in executive positions within the firm, Coghlin sees more of his role as mentoring them. Some of the lessons he tries to pass on:
- Divide your days into focus days–8 of 10 working hours dedicated to a task–buffer days for catching up on administrative tasks, and free days–mini vacations just before a focus day.
- Pursue three 90-day goals at a time.
- Concentrate on high-payoff activities to achieve those goals. For instance, when setting priorities for customer contact, go after the one that will result in the largest check.
- Spend as much time as possible in the field (Coghlin doesn’t have an office, only a meeting room).
- “Delegate everything except what is your genius”–the part of your work that contains your passion, and that others can’t do as well.
- Build key relationships. If there’s conflict, ask the other person, “‘What has to have happened in three years to make this relationship successful?’ If they don’t answer, they don’t trust you. If they do answer, you know exactly what has to happen.”
- Finally, keep your commitments–be someone others will trust: be on time, do what you say you’ll do, finish the tasks, and say please and thank you.
Reprinted with permission of the UMass Family Business Center, online at http://www.umass.edu/fambiz.