University of Northern Iowa




Monday, November 19, 2018
By Jayne Kielman As you gather around the table this Thanksgiving, consider the idea that for some families this can be a very positive holiday experience and for others it is laced with stressors that may be close to the boiling point.

Cue an episode of “Jerry Springer” or Dr. Phil’s voice asking, “how is that working for you?”. 

Family businesses are different.  Most owners and employees get to go home and remove themselves from the stress of the day.  Family businesses are often intertwined and the lines blur between work and home.  The positives of putting family together and running a business can result in dedication and focus to the business that is unmatched by any other... Read More

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

First things first, I know what ESOP stands for, but don’t ask me about Chapter 8 or 409 (h) details. The point of my message here is to simply put some myths to bed surrounding ESOPS. At the same time, I’d like to shamelessly plug the free webinar we are doing this Wednesday with Kreg Tool (an Iowa ESOP company) and BCC Advisers (and Iowa ESOP consulting firm) We’ll be discussing Kreg’s journey through succession planning and how an ESOP became the right fit for them. Greg Weber of BCC Advisors will also be on hand to talk through the process and benefits of how an ESOP might work for your firm.

You can register here

Myth #1​ //ESOPs are expensive Yes, they are. They do c... Read More

Monday, October 29, 2018

Many business owners believe that they want to sell their businesses to a third party when they first start considering their business exits. Owners who want to start planning for a third-party sale sometimes fear that tight-fisted buyers will be the primary enemy in the way of a successful business exit. However, experience shows that it is business owners who are their own worst enemy when pursuing third-party sales, because they succumb to two common Deal Killers. Briefly, a Deal Killer is a negative aspect of the business or its owner that can kill a deal with a third party if it isn’t resolved before the buyer learns about it. There are several Deal Killers, but two common ones are:... Read More

Monday, October 29, 2018

Building a successful business and minimizing risk may seem like opposite strategies, but typically, they go hand in hand. Once a business matures past the early, sometimes chaotic stages of development, business owners often turn toward actions that can protect them from the unexpected. Common examples of risk mitigation include purchasing life insurance on owners’ lives and insuring any assets crucial to business success. These are valid ways to minimize risk, but rarely are they enough to protect owners and their businesses as they approach their business exits. As you consider how to best protect yourself and your business from risks to your business exit, consider three often overloo... Read More

Tuesday, October 23, 2018
“ Vernon is one of less than 30 firms in the United States that is over 100 years old, has been continuously owned/managed by the same family without interruption and is in the same line of business as during its founding in 1902. Less than 3% of family businesses survive past the third generation and under 1% survive past 4 generations.” – Norman Cohn, Chairman, ASI Publications    Founded in 1902, The Vernon Company markets promotional advertising based solutions for corporate identity needs, including promoting new products or services, improving market share, increasing sales, building customer loyalty, improving safety and morale, thanking customers and employees.   According to... Read More
Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Imagine building your business over several decades, beginning to plan your business exit, then dying unexpectedly before you can implement your plans. Business owners rarely think about how an unexpected death or permanent incapacitation can derail even the most carefully created plans. And it makes sense: If you were always worried about what could go wrong, chances are you’d have never started your business in the first place. But as you approach your business exit, you’ll likely want to take steps that minimize the kinds of outside effects that can cause your planning to fail. One way to do that is to install Business Continuity Instructions. Business Continuity Instructions are a for... Read More

Friday, September 21, 2018

Many business owners take pride in the businesses they’ve built. Some of those owners are so proud and dedicated to their businesses that they’d be happy dying at their desks, doing what they love. They believe that they can wait until they’re ready to begin thinking about what happens when they exit the business, either by choice or otherwise. A few believe that they don’t have to plan for their exits at all. They figure that since they are willing to die in the business, there’s no point in planning for their exits. This might be a flawed mind-set. You may be asking yourself, “If I don’t plan on leaving my business, why would I need Exit Planning?” Many business owners ask us that very... Read More

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Across Iowa, we are experiencing a ‘silver tsunami’ of aging baby boomers. One area of our economy we know this will affect is the changing of ownership in family-owned companies. It is well documented that only about 30 percent of family firms make it to Generation 2 (G2) and a tiny 12 percent make it to Generation 3 (G3). These transitions must be planned carefully and proactively to ensure the firm survives. So how do we do that?

Let’s consider a simplified five-step approach to help organize what can be a very challenging process:

1 Communicate Objectives/Goals/Timelines The focus here is on “Communicate”. Existing ownership and the next generation must take the time... Read More

Monday, September 17, 2018


Via Fast Company, by Vivian Giang

Negotiation in the best of circumstances is a delicate balance and often nerve-wracking for all parties involved. But attempting to make deals with difficult, uncooperative parties can quickly escalate to a headache-inducing debacle.


When it comes to dismantling the toughest bargainers, one persuasive tactic William Ury, cofounder of the Harvard Program on Negotiation, writes about in his... Read More

Monday, September 17, 2018


Via Fast Company, by Gwen Morgan

You feel it coming—the malaise, fatigue, irritability, and lack of interest. It’s tougher to motivate yourself to do what you need to do. You’re heading toward full-fledged burnout. But the bad news is that you have zero flexibility to take time off to deal with it.


“When you’re talking about burnout, you’re talking about a spectrum,” says Paula Davis-Laack, founder of the Davis Laack Stre... Read More