Date posted: April 12, 2018

Name: Janna Parfenova
Company: Ash Street Partners

How long have you been working with family businesses?
Since 2003, ranging from meat distribution to sugar mills to dairy processing to software businesses across various vertical markets – from private companies to publicly listed international conglomerates that still remain family businesses.

My work focuses on governance, general business contracts and advice, with majority of work being in the sale of business and transactions space.

During that time, I have learnt that no matter how big or small a family business is, the challenges are very similar. The “Family” prefix is sometimes the bigger challenge and requires careful consideration and attention.

What’s one of the most common mistakes you see in family businesses?
Being reactive rather than proactive – not investing in good processes and documents upfront and ending up paying more to fix problems later.

It’s music to my ears when I hear about businesses that have been proactive and everyone in the business knows what to do and where to go and how problems are solved if they arise.

Advisers setting expectations up front is so valuable and it’s never too late to start doing that.

What is your “uh ha” moment with your clients? When they realise…
How much value can be added to a business by independent advisers, who take the weight of problems off their shoulders, who have dealt with similar issues before and who have innovative solutions to hand.