Parents-College Grads: The Resurgence of the Family Business

By: Mark A. Roger

Could you imagine working day-to-day with you son or daughter?  Would your father or mother make a good salesperson?  Have you ever considered investing in your family’s future by owning a business together? 

That’s right, the family-owned business is seeing a resurgence.  Though popular 2-3 generations ago, the idea of working with family members lost its luster in the business building of the 1980s. 

With a wealth of unpromising career opportunities in this post-recession economy, a growing number of job-seeking parents are partnering with their children to regain control of their professional futures.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average length of unemployment for workers over 55 is well over one year.  Further, The Associated Press, in 2014, ran a study that found almost 54% of those with bachelor’s degrees under the age 25 were jobless or underemployed, a substantial increase in the past decade.

Today, a significant number of unemployed baby boomers are seasoned executives who are challenged to re-invent themselves and re-invest in their futures. Of course, college graduates are leaving school with greater tuition debt than ever before (debt that will impact their accumulating net wealth and, consequently, hindering their ability to purchase a business, a house, a vehicle for years to come).  Couple that with a precarious job market for new graduates and you can understand why parents find value partnering with their children to invest in themselves either by purchasing a franchise or an existing business. 

There are business models that work particularly well managed by a multi-generational group.  Businesses that include inside management/outside sales and those that include multi-revenue streams providing varied tasks and work well.  Franchising, in particular, is a very successful route to start a family business simply because it provides a practical business roadmap and a clean slate.  Parent-college graduate partnerships find franchising: 

·         Offers proven and well established processes and easy-to-follow operating systems,

·         Combines the benefits of local business ownership with brand name recognition and applicable good-will, and

·         Provides ongoing guidance and support by an established franchisor so there isn’t a question as to best practices.

Regardless, if you are buying a franchise or existing business, identifying a business concept that allows everyone to leverage their skill set is imperative.  Though there is no “best practice,” I have found that often parents handling tasks that require local connections while the children take care of day-to-day operations and online marketing is an ideal arrangement to begin the journey into entrepreneurship.  Even in instances where the parent isn’t fully engaged in the daily business – leaving their child to run the operations – they should still have an interest in the concept and be able to utilize their experience or skills to provide support.  Parent and college graduate, both, need to be making an impact and commitment to the success of the family business.

5 Trends for Identifying a Successful Business

5 Trends for Identifying a Successful Business

By: Mark A. Roger

With well paying, career building jobs in short supply, business ownership is on the upswing. But, how does one find the right business that offers long-term financial security for them and their families in our new economy? I regularly work with individuals who are considering business ownership and the conversation always turns to the “financial security” question.

What product or service offers the best potential at the lowest risk?  Who specifically will want the product or service?  Can people be educated or influenced to purchase the service?  Is it a sound business idea?  How long will it take to ramp up the business? Needless to say, these questions can be overwhelming to those contemplating business ownership.

There are few “rules of the road” in evaluating the success of a business concept in our new economy.  Yet, companies possessing the following trends seem to have an advantage in the new marketplace. 

1)    Services that include protected technology provides an advantage.  A business with protected technology or proven processes limits the impact of competition and guarantees competitive advantage. Custom point-of-sale software and GPS tracking allows even a one person, home maintenance business to have an advantage.  Strong technology enhances new markets with unlimited growth and stresses the importance of innovation. 

2)  Strong brands possess strong financial models.  We learned though the recent recession to never underestimate brand loyalty users opting for Apple products.  Customers will pay a higher price – and preorder items months in advance -- to receive a proven and quality product or service.  Strong sales at strong prices leads to strong financials. 

3)    Mature products and services need a value proposition.  Over time, brands develop competitors - alternative products, services, technologies, suppliers.  Successful brands differentiate their business from their competitors.  Identifying the differentiated value – why a brand is “new”, “better” or “unique” -- is the universal, driving force behind the continual reintroduction of a product or service into the marketplace.   

4)    Products or services that fill a niche leads to referrals.  Does it address the needs of an underserved market?  Involve regulation changes?  Societal trends and demographic shifts can mean new and expanding industries as we are seeing in the senior care industry.   Senior customers not only seek products and services that avoid inconvenience, but reward trustworthy providers with endless referrals.

5)     Brands that diversify can more successfully survive economic volatility.  Businesses offering their customers multiple products and services are much better prepared for an economic downturn or changes in the market.  A diversified product or service offering means a business can shift focus from one product to another while minimizing the impact to the customer base or bottom line.  

There is certainly no “sure thing” when it comes to business success.  Yet, focusing on businesses which incorporate modern technology, innovative products and services, strong branding, and possibly within a niche market can offer an edge toward success.  These products and services will almost certainly be the ones which offer the strongest profitability and long-term financial security for business owners and their families.

4 Road Blocks to Business Ownership

4 Road Blocks to Business Ownership

By: Mark A. Roger

If you have dreamed of business ownership, you may have found a business concept that captured your interest.  Yet, after a short period of a few days or a week, that interest and even excitement was gone – even before you had done any serious research on the opportunity.  What happened?  You began to encounter road blocks.  These road blocks may appear to be overwhelming; however, understanding the primary concerns faced by business owners and evaluating the facts behind them will allow you to move forward in your entrepreneurial journey. 

There are four primary road blocks that you will most likely encounter.  When evaluating a business to own, be prepared to address these head-on: 

1)    Personal Expenses:  Understand your “roof & table”

How much money does it take to cover the cost of the roof over your head and food on your table for six months?  Though called “roof and table”, don’t forget to include all of your monthly expenses for six months – insurance, utilities, taxes, etc.  If I have learned anything from working with first time business owners, it’s to make sure you have money set aside for six months.  The #1 reason that new businesses fail is simply due to running out of money.  The stress of paying those expenses should not be where you are focused. You will have other concerns to interest you – trust me.     

2)    Personal Time:  Balance your work with your life

A lot of people seek business ownership in order to have more free time.  However - ask a business owner about the work schedule they actually keep and most often they will say “whatever it takes.” 

In a traditional business ownership model, you may be working 10-12 hours per day at times, but you have the flexibility and discretion in how you live those hours.  I chose to be a business owner 12 years ago when I was working 7am to 7pm in a corporate job and getting home as my kids were going to sleep.  Those years go by quickly and I wasn’t going to miss them.  Yes, I stopped work at 11am for a Veteran’s Day Celebration, but made up that time after dinner that evening.

There are also semi-absentee ownership models.  In these models, the owner works 10-15 hours per week once the business is up-and-running, leaving time for another job or obligation.  Though these types of ownership arrangements do exist, though they are more the exception than the rule. 

Remember, you are making a family decision.  A business of your own will affect your family as well.  Family members must know and accept the demands that business ownership will entail.   

3)    Business Plan:  Solidify your financials

You need to be concerned about your financial ability to not only start your business, but also to continue to operate it until it begins to make a profit.  Building a financial spreadsheet that projects out your first year will be key to your success.  Based upon projections, you will be able to breakdown your year into milestones and identify ramp-up time.  Enthusiastic entrepreneurs will project years 2-3 as well. 

You will want to know not only when you reach breakeven, but when you can begin paying yourself a salary.  Budgeting for and paying yourself a salary is fundamental to your happiness.  There are lots of unhappy business owners who have never earned more than a company vehicle and a handful of cell phones.  Being an entrepreneur is wonderful as long as your bills are paid and obligations met.      

4)    Sales Plan:  Identify your sales process and market position

Regardless if it is a product or service, you need to have a comprehensive sales processes.  Customarily, the business owner is tasked with marketing and promoting the business within the marketplace.  If you are not the “selling type,” you need to consider hiring a sales manager.

There are great products and services that go unnoticed every year simply because potential clients didn’t know they exist.  You need to know your target market well and where, when, why, how they source their information on purchasing comparable products or services.  Always keep in mind your value differential – what makes your product or service “new, unique or different.”  It may sound old school, but your potential clients need a reason to make a change in their buying practices.  

The best way to overcome road blocks, and that overwhelmed feeling, is through research.  Proper due diligence is critically important.  Having a working understanding of these primary road blocks will afford you the ability to conduct a more complete and thorough investigation of any business that you think may be right for you.  Most importantly, you may very well be able to move forward in your entrepreneurial journey and eventually be the business owner you have dreamt you would become.  

To learn more about overcoming roadblocks and how to find the right business ownership opportunity for you – please join us at Entrepreneurship Carmel Workshop Series the second Tuesday of the month from 6-7:30P at Carmel Clay Public Library. Register at

SOURCE River West hosts an open house and pitch contest featuring their first 7 business trainees.

SOURCE River West hosts an open house and pitch contest featuring their first 7 business trainees.

(Indianapolis, IN – December 12, 2016) The Near Westside of Indianapolis will welcome, SOURCE River West, a new hub for entrepreneurs, to the neighborhood on Wednesday, December 14th.  Seven current and aspiring business owners will share their business ideas with hopes of earning a $2,000 pitch award, sponsored by the IU Kelley School of Business Indianapolis, to support their business goals.

The contest featuring pitches from new restaurant, arts, wine education, elementary education businesses and niche retail like home décor and furnishings and online clothing boutique, are the culminating activity of an 8-week course on entrepreneurship.  These entrepreneurial ventures are representative of the future business environment on the West Michigan Street corridor as part of the River West Great Place. 

Source River West is a catalyst project of the River West Great Place initiative. Its goal is to create an environment where all entrepreneurs are welcome and contribute to an equitable and thriving neighborhood business sector by fostering place-based entrepreneurship through coaching, education, training, and resources to support aspiring and existing entrepreneurs.

While, IUPUI serves as a founding partner and fiscal agent for the launch of this work, the intent is for this project to stand on its own in the River West area. SOURCE River West has partnered with the local Westside Community Development Corporation with support from LISC Indianapolis to rehab a space that will serve as a physical hub to serve aspiring and existing businesses in the area.  Through partnership with the Indy Chamber’s Business Ownership Initiative (BOI) foundational business courses and coaching will be offered on-site.  With support from JP Morgan Chase, IUPUI received funding to hire a director who will develop additional programming and resources for the businesses.  The SOURCE River West Director will be named in January 2017.

The next Entrepreneurial Small business course will begin in Spring 2017.

Wednesday’s open house is from 4 – 6 PM at the new location 2228 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN 46222.

For more information on SOURCE River West, visit or contact Starla Hart at 317-278-3475 or