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A Family Business is About Winning the War, Not the Battle

Anna Anderson Family Business
March 23, 2022 at 1:00 p.m.

RCS Influencer Anna Anderson says that the best part of a family business is that you have your family with you along the way. 

Editor’s note: The following consists of a conversation between RCS Multimedia Manager Megan Ellsworth, and Art Unlimited CEO Anna Anderson. You can listen to the podcast or read the transcript below. 

Megan Ellsworth: Hello. My name is Megan Ellsworth here at rooferscoffeeshop.com back again with an influencer response for the month of March. Super excited to be chatting about family businesses this month. And I'm with Anna Anderson. Hi Anna. 

Anna Anderson: Hi, so great to be here. 

Megan Ellsworth: Yay. So this month's topic and question is what is your advice for running and growing a family business? And I don't know how I didn't know that Art Unlimited is a family business, but now I know, and I'm so glad. So I'm very excited to hear what you have to say. 

Anna Anderson: Yeah, so not everybody knows that the business was started 40 years ago. We're just going to be celebrating our 40 year anniversary here in May of 2022. 

Megan Ellsworth: Congratulations. 

Anna Anderson: Thank you so much. It's been a journey. It's not always been easy, right? But we have had family all the way along. So to me, what are some of those words of wisdom components, nuggets that as a second generation business owner I can pass on.  

I remind myself, I remind our family and I remind our team that especially in a family business, you need to make sure that everybody understands the vision. And I jokingly say it's about winning the war, not each battle. Because sometimes if we get so caught up in saying, okay, here's the issue, I want to win. I'm the CEO, I'm this person in the company, I have to win this. And I'm like, no. Now focus on the big picture. Is that one component going to further divide not only the company, but your family? It's not worth it. 

So let's make sure that whenever you're creating change, that the solutions are to propel you towards the big picture vision, and again, jokingly, I said, let's focus on winning the war, not each battle that or opportunity or issue that we're dealing with on a daily and weekly basis. So that's tip number one. 

Megan Ellsworth: I love it. That's yes. Fabulous. 

Anna Anderson: Yeah. And you know, because I mean you and your family with a RoofersCoffeeShop, if you divided the company over one issue, you look back and say our family separated over that one thing, just seems so trivial. 

Tip number two is critical in family business. Schedule time for personal and professional development. So we as a company do EOS, my sister and I lead the company. We have a whole leadership team, but when it comes down to it, I'm the visionary and she's the integrator. 

And you need to schedule time for those one to one meetings, same page meetings. There's a few different names, but we do that. And it's allowed us to understand personally, how are we? What's happening? Professionally, how are we? What's happening? And how can we support each other? 

And so as a family business, it has a greater meaning. We're also talking about personally topics that are the family health and what do we need to do to help support maybe our parents who were the founders of the company. 

And so our same page meeting earlier this week included that it's our dad's birthday coming up, and so we're working on some details there. And so that's our personal, it helps us stay healthy and it also helps them understand what's happening in the company, because there's some things that come out of that same page meeting that help our entire family. 

And actually, I should take off of that every quarter we invite the family to a dinner, and the spouses or significant others or key individuals off the leadership team. We have a two, three hour slot where we all go up to dinner. We talk about the vision of the company, what are big things that are happening that maybe they need to be aware of? 

Because sometimes I get home and I'm exhausted, and I just want to check out of the office and I want to talk about my kids and what my husband's doing. And so that has helped us significantly. So my parents, again, who founded the company, understand what my sister and I are doing with business. So schedule that time be intentional and it will keep you in a very healthy place. 

Megan Ellsworth: Oh yeah. Wow. That's great. That's so important to separate the two. Yes, well said. 

Anna Anderson: And then tip number three is something that can be challenging because there's a lot of motions wrapped up in this, but as you go from one generation to another or you have different, maybe it's family members who rise up in the company or take the helm, make sure that it's a clear transition path.  

We actually hired somebody to help us with that a few different individuals because we wanted to make sure that it wasn't just an agreement that was crafted internally as a family on a piece of napkin. No, we wanted to have legal advisors, financial advisors, that we had a life coach, a business coach also come to the table to help with those negotiations, because when we sit down at our family dinner, Easter's coming up, right, we want to make sure that we can focus on us and not what was that deal that was signed four weeks ago. 

So that's what I would say is. Create a clear transition path, bring in the right professionals, make sure that you uphold integrity of the company. We're not perfect. But at the end of the day, if my sister calls, my mom or dad calls, one of the other family members needs something we're there to support them. 

Megan Ellsworth: Wow. Well said. That is fabulous. Such great advice for family businesses out there that I think is so important to really clarify the roles, make sure you're all on the same page, vision, what's happening, what's coming down the pipeline and making sure that there's a clear separation between work and home balance. That's very well said. Thank you for those great tips. I'm sure everyone out there listening is taking notes. 

Anna Anderson: Yeah, well hopefully and keep rocking to all those family businesses out there. It's so fun when I get to talk to those business owners and they're like, oh our spouse or our sibling also runs the company. It's just a very special. 

Megan Ellsworth: I love it. Awesome. Well, any last words on family business advice for this month? 

Anna Anderson: Well, hopefully these tips were helpful. There's so much more that go was into running a family business. But those to me are some of the key components that have helped us be successful. 

Megan Ellsworth: Awesome. Thank you so much, Anna. And I will be chatting with you next month. 

Anna Anderson: Thanks so much. 

Anna Anderson is the CEO of Art Unlimited. See her full bio here.

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