University of Northern Iowa




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

Thursday, September 06, 2018

We all know the old saying our parents told us – “when you assume, Daniel, (I always knew I was in trouble when my parents used my formal first name), you make an (fill in the blank) out of you and me.   

The road to conflict in a family is paved with assumptions.  (It’s also paved with perceptions, triangular conversations, and dead beat son-in-laws, but we’ll cover those topics later)

At the very top of the list of Assumptions that kill a family business is this on... Read More

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Exit Planning can be complex. Between setting your exit goals and transferring your business, you’ll attempt to build business value, find an appropriate successor or buyer, navigate perplexing tax implications, and keep your key employees onboard. And that’s just a few of the things you’ll do! With so many considerations surrounding your business exit, you may want to consider creating an Advisor Team. Simply put, no single advisor has sufficient expertise to create and implement all of the activities required in a typical Exit Plan. To give yourself the best chance to exit your business on your terms, you’ll likely require the services of several advisors from different fields. These ma... Read More

Thursday, August 09, 2018

By Dan Beenken, Advance Iowa program Director

August, 9, 2018

​ Mixing family and business – is often said to be a dangerous proposition. While that can be true, it doesn't have to be. Iowa’s economy is built on longstanding, family owned firms – so we know it’s not impossible. The key ingredient to harmony? Structure. I know most people don’t like it and would rather float along without it. But in a family-owned company, its crucial. Planning, designing, AND communicating that structure can go a long way toward reducing conflict for the next generation. Stats are often cited that less than 1/3 of all family businesses survive to the 2 nd generation, and of those, less tha... Read More

Thursday, August 02, 2018

By Casie LeRette, Advance Iowa Program Assistant



To us, the benefits and importance of family businesses networking together are clear. Our mantra ‘family businesses are  different’, is not just a catchy phrase. We believe family businesses are different due to the result of the unique challenges during their start up, and those which continue through the life of the business. While every b... Read More