Stress Free Family Business - Family Law
Marc Kramer is the former Executive-in-Residence at Saint Joseph’s University Haub School of Business, working with family businesses, and president of marketing communications firm Kramer Communications, He is also the executive director of the Private Investors Forum, which runs the Angel Venture Fair, bringing together the largest gathering of angel investors and entrepreneurs in the Mid-Atlantic region. As executive director of the Private Investors Forum, Marc has worked with close to 1,000 companies from all over the world and introduced them to angel investors across the US.
Marc has been on the cover of Profit magazine and featured in Inc, Entrepreneur Magazine and other publications for his achievement in establishing the country’s formally organised angel investor network, the Pennsylvania Private Group. The Wall Street Journal selected Marc to be one of their main speakers on early-stage investing at their national conference in Atlanta in 1994.
He was also a project faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Global Consulting Practicum and Executive Education, adjunct professor at Drexel University, adjunct professor at Temple University and mentor faculty at the National University of Singapore. In addition to this, he is a professional speaker and lectures on topics such as family business, leadership, entrepreneurship, marketing and innovation.
Marc has been writing on angel investing and entrepreneurship for over 35 years as a national columnist for the American City Business Journal chain and columnist for the SmartCEO magazine. He has also written for Forbes.com and TheStreet.com, the world’s top online service for money managers, company leaders and individuals that manage their own money, and was a columnist for The Bulletin, Philadelphia’s third largest daily. Marc also provided a one-minute entrepreneurial commentary for KYW News in Philadelphia for 14 years.
Marc is a former trustee of Cheyney University, the oldest African American University in the US, and was on the board of the Entrepreneurs Forum of Philadelphia and the Technology Resource Alliance. Marc has a Master’s in Management from Penn State University and a BS in Journalism from West Virginia University.
Can you tell us about your role?
I am the founder and CEO of Stress Free Family Business. I know the title sounds like an oxymoron, because working with your family is always stressful. The reason for the name is that every family aspires to a stress-free interacting among family members. I do my best to make sure that people are prepared and in the right position with good communication and transparency. I want to set them up for success individually and as a family.
In what ways have you seen the landscape of family business changing in the past year?
I do not know if family business has changed so much as it has from one generation to the next. What I mean is that I am 61 and my parents’ generation typically expected you to join the family business. Every family I work with tells the children they should only join the family business if they want to, not out of obligation. They parents also tell them that they will start at the bottom, reporting to someone other than themselves, and that they have to earn their way through hard work and on merit. Parents realise they have an obligation to their employees to make sure the heirs are both ready and passionate about the building, so that factors into how they prepare their children.
What concerns do you most often help your clients to address?
There are a few big concerns. One is the family members, mostly children, who are believed to be the rightful heir to the business because they are the first born or have the right education is the rightful heir. Unfortunately, half the time the selected heir is not the best choice and I have to tell the family. This often leads to lifelong dreams and expectations being shattered. The second thing is getting rid of incompetent or crooked family members, which often leads to hurt feelings and sometimes permanent estrangement.
Lastly is family members who are not working in the business owning stock in it or getting some monetary compensation. I encourage families to sell all of the stock, unless it is a large business of $100 million or greater, to the family members that are working in the company and give those who are not participating cash compensation from the sale of the stock.
Can you tell us about what led you to specialise as a family business coach?
I grew up in a family business. My grandfather started a business that my father took over and my cousin took over his father’s business and brought his son in. I realised I had great inside information and experience that could help other families. I was relatable. I really enjoy working with families, especially the kids in preparing them to take over.
What does this award mean to you?
The reward acknowledges my experience, expertise and contributions to working with family businesses and hopefully will encourage family business leaders to call me to assist them.
Is there a particular person or mentor figure who has inspired your work to date?
My dad, who passed away almost 20 years ago, was my inspiration because he was a solid businessman who made sure he lead a balanced life so he was always present. I have had many mentors in my career. Even at 61, I still seek mentors. Many of my mentors are entrepreneurs who have built great businesses.
Is there a particular creed or philosophy that informs your work?
My philosophy is to be direct, honest, ethical, sincere and authentic while trying to maximise the skills of my clients and make sure the family can celebrate holidays and major family events.
How do you plan to develop yourself and your organisation in the coming year?
I plan to write a book that will guide families through the leadership and generational transition process along with how to improve all aspects of their business and make sure family members remember that the relationships are most important. Writing this book will allow me to speak to successful family businesses and different business experts.View in Winners Edition >