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Move From Family Business to B-School

Applicants who have worked in a family business sometimes worry that their professional profile won’t measure up when compared with other MBA hopefuls with more traditional employment paths. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Every year, top schools accept students who will go back to work for the family business. In fact, 9 percent of the applicants accepted into the Harvard Business School class of 2014 had worked for, or planned to work for, their family-owned company.

Business schools strive to compose a cohort of diverse personalities and backgrounds to guarantee lively discussions, so depending on your role in the company and the type of business itself, your experiences would likely add a unique perspective to the class.

Part of your school selection research should focus on what types of resources and support for family businesses are offered by your target programs. For many applicants, a one-year MBA program is ideal since you won’t need the internship and recruiting opportunities that job-switching students in two-year programs rely on.

I advise applying to the best schools that you think you can get into because they will offer a great education as well as the best networking opportunities. Also, think about whether the school’s geographic location will help you build a network which would directly help your family business.

Family business management has emerged as an important discipline at business schools as second- and third-generation family members realize the need for specialized skills in order to take over the reins and create a more corporate work environment. Over the past decade, schools have introduced courses and clubs on family business, founded centers dedicated to the subject or launched concentrations in this area.

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has a Center for Family Enterprises. Columbia Business School, stating that 80 percent of businesses worldwide are classified as family businesses, offered a course this spring on Family Business Management. And students and alumni of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School can participate in the Wharton Family Business Club.

If the school offers a student club focused on this group, reaching out to current members for their insight on the program’s benefits might prove invaluable in your decision-making process.

As with any winning application, the strategy in this case is to show in detail how an MBA degree will help you further your professional goals. Explain with specifics what you need to learn in order to grow the family business.

Paint a clear picture of your vision for the company’s future, and leave no doubt as to how an MBA will help you make an impact on the business after graduation. That way, the admissions committee understands why business school is the logical next step.

For your essays, start brainstorming some of the challenges your business has faced, and come up with examples that show how you as a family worked to overcome those obstacles. Business schools place a high value on teamwork, and what better way to show commitment and follow-through than by demonstrating you know how to work well with others to achieve a common goal?

As many applicants know, the ideal recommender for an MBA application is the manager to whom you report directly. However, if your immediate supervisors are relatives, you’ll need to get creative since you cannot have a family member write your recommendation letter.

Can you approach a supervisor or manager from a company you’ve previously worked for? Or have you worked closely with any clients or vendors that can speak to your managerial or leadership abilities?

Our client Bill had been working for the family business, a manufacturing company in Baltimore, for three years after college.

After brainstorming for recommenders he could approach outside the business, Bill hit upon a retail vendor that had been supplied by his company for more than a decade with whom he’d built a strong relationship. Since this vendor was evaluating Bill on many similar criteria as a direct supervisor and was an objective, outside source, he turned out to be the perfect choice.

In the end, Bill’s family business-based application fared well next to candidates coming from a corporate background. He was ultimately admitted to Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, and chose Darden to be a little closer to home.

Alberto Gimeno, director of Esade Business School‘s International Family Business Lab, recently noted in the Financial Times that “Concepts such as honesty, pride, loyalty and long-term commitment… are everyday practices of successful family businesses around the world.”

If you’re planning on pursuing an MBA to learn how to take your family business to the next level, take pride in your professional circumstances and know that business schools will value your accomplishments and responsibilities, whether acquired at a Fortune 500 company or under Mom and Dad’s tutelage.

Top Tips On How To Start A Restaurant Business

How to Start a Restaurant Business

Starting a restaurant business is an alluring dream for many but a reality for only a select few. The restaurant business is like the start of the New York marathon. Thousands of people start the race but only a fraction of those people finish and an even smaller percentage actually succeed in meeting their goal for the race. Why? Well, it simply isn’t as easy as most people think and there are key skills and attributes that the entrepreneur must consider when thinking how to start a restaurant business. The National Restaurant Association (“NRA”) claims that over 42,000 new licences are issued each year in the US. These are lofty numbers and you would be forgiven for thinking this is a positive.

The reality is that restaurants have the highest attrition rate of any business type. The attrition rates in the sector very wildly, ranging from 90% failing in the first year, to as low as 20% in the first year of trading. A recent academic survey conducted by researchers at Michigan State University found that 27% of start up’s failed in the first year; after three years 50% of those restaurants were no longer in business; after five years 60% had fallen away and before the end of the decade 70% of restaurants were no longer trading. While these may seem like scary statistics a subsequent study at Cornell University in 2005 revealed that 81.4% of small business failures result from factors within the owner’s control. In other words, despite these damning metrics, failure is by no means inevitable. So how can restaurateurs evade this landmine? Here are our top tips on how to start a restaurant business.

Top Tips For A Successful Restaurant Business

Most people dream of having a buzzing little establishment with perfect ambiance, a hoard of adoring, loyal customers and a cash register that is brimming with money every night. Nice dream, but it takes a special kind of person to make that a reality.

Key Personal Traits that typify a successful restaurateur.

1. Unwavering Tenacity

The restaurant business is characterized by long hours, customer complaints and an endless list of tasks to perform, and that’s before we even get into the strategy! This is not an easy ride and to succeed you will need all the determination at your disposal to get through each week. Ask any chef, restaurant owner or hospitality worker. It is hard to succeed and only the strong survive. You need to stay the course and remain positive in the face of adversity. Most restaurateurs lament about the hard start but also revel in the “tipping point” when their business really took off. Maintaining the momentum is the trick and tenacity is pivotal in achieving this.

2. Attention to detail

Everything comes down to the detail in this game. You are providing an experience for your customer base and if you concentrate on getting the detail right you increase your chances of making that experience meet the customer needs. This trait is so important, not just in terms of the quality control of each dish that is served but also in terms of the kitchen cleanliness, ensuring licences are up to date, that the booking system works, the list goes on… If you have a “devil may care” attitude then you won’t last five minutes. Being meticulous about all aspects of you business from the product to the business strategy is absolutely critical.

3. Managing People

You can’t run the place yourself. You must recruit and recruit well. You must possess the ability to place trust in your brigade to get the job done in line with your values and strategy. Getting the right chef (assuming you are not one), the right waiting staff and front of house are critical and you have to be able to communicate effectively to motivate and delegate responsibility. When thinking about how to start a restaurant, think about starting a winning team. Managing that team is critical to your success. Teamwork and communication are pivotal skills to ensure success. Empathy and leadership qualities are outstanding traits for the restaurant business.

Key Business Success Factors

1. Do a Restaurant Business Plan

The best advice you can receive when thinking about how to start a restaurant business is to do a business plan. It is absolutely pivotal. The restaurant business is so customer focussed that doing your homework is the difference between success and failure. Market and customer research will enable you to plan your business model effectively to ensure you continually meet the needs of your customers. It will also help you plan your finances to ensure you run an effective operation and don’t run out of cash. It’s all about seeling an experience in the restaurant game and you need all the right information at hand to ensure you hit the mark and have a strategic plan to explain to a bank or investor to attract the funding you need to open the restaurant. Opening your doors without a business plan is suicide because planning retrospectively while running the business is almost impossible. Prevention is better than cure.

2. Be flexible

Make sure your business strategy is flexible. It will need to be in order to continually meet the needs of those customers. Everything from menu construction, wine list, decor and your marketing strategy must be nimble and react instantly to changes in demand. Most businesses keep monthly financial records but in the restaurant game weekly financials help you keep your finger on the pulse and provide an opportunity to cater changing customer demands to maximise sales. This is where the business plan really becomes valuable. It should evolve with your operation. It is not just a static document used for getting funding. Restaurants with nimble business models are the ones that succeed.

3. Focus On The Customer

This flows directly from the initial research you will have done on your market and customer demographic but the focus on the customer should be first and foremost in your mind. Talk to your customers and ask questions about what they like and what they would like to see changed. Rotate your menu and keep it simple. Long convoluted menus breed confusion and make delivering the meals so much harder for the staff. Your customer will guide you in presenting the best menu and setting to maximise sales. They are the source of your success.

Build a Sustainable Business

If you want to make it to the end of the race you have to never give up. This sounds obvious, but running a restaurant will test your patience and resilience. To get the basics right you have to rely on your research to make sure your business is providing people what they “want” rather than what you think they “need”. The most successful restaurants do simple things well and have a definite strategy to evolve and engage customers. They provide a level of service that meets the customers needs and an atmosphere that appeals to the customer’s requirements. It may seem like a difficult balance to achieve but if you are committed, creative and base your business model on solid research your chances of being one of the few who do survive will improve significantly.

How To Launch A Successful Home Business?

Are you thinking about becoming a home business owner? Creating your own business is an excellent way to earn an income while being independent and spending more time with your family. Read the following article if you want to learn more about home businesses and how to create yours.

You should not launch your home business before doing a lot of research on your business idea and on the market you are interested in. If possible, talk to other business owners to get a better idea of how they market their products or services. Doing some research on the market you are interested in is essential because it will give you an idea of how your audience will react to your products or services. If you find that the market you are interested in is saturated, look for another business idea. You should also figure out a way to reach out to your audience. A lot of home business owners use the Internet to promote their products or services.

Develop a very detailed business plan. Your business plan can be used to convince investors to help you launch your business. You can also use your plan as a guideline to develop your business. A good business plan should clearly state the goal of your business and explain the strategies you will use to meet these goals. You should include your expectations in term of sales, a cost analysis to figure out how much your products or services will cost you and some reasonable profit expectations.

Find a way to finance your business. Working at home will help you save a lot of money but you will still have to invest in quality equipment and supplies to launch your business. If you cannot afford to purchase everything you need right away, get started with the strict minimum and invest more in your business as soon as you can. You should consider borrowing money to finance your business. Try borrowing from friends or relatives if you can. You can also apply for a business loan if you are confident that your profits will allow you to make your loan payments on time.

Register your business once you are ready to launch it. You should not start selling products or services until your business is properly registered. You can visit the website of the Small Business Administration to download all the forms you need and submit them online. Register your business name with the SBA and with state agencies. You will also have to apply for federal and state permits. You might need additional licenses if you are working with dangerous materials or with food. If you have a hard time with registering your business, find a lawyer who can help you.

These tips will help you get ready to launch your own business. Take the time to research your market and develop your business plan before launching your business. You will get better results if you work hard on the early stages of your business.