June 15, 2015 11:00 AM

Starting a business is easy. Running it successfully is hard. Passing it down to your kids, really hard. Grandkids, rare.

Michael Beduze and Don Bacqué
Photo by Robin May
Enter the Rising Leaders Forum. Begun by a trio of Lafayette business leaders under the umbrella of Da Vinci Global Consulting — David Calhoun, Don Bacqué and Michael Beduze — the RLF is a series of ongoing meetings “dedicated to empowering the rising generations working within family-owned business,” according to Beduze.

The forums comprise 10 to 12 rising family-owned business leaders who get together to discuss issues unique to family-owned business, including best practices and leading business trends. The sessions are facilitated by a Da Vinci Family-Business consultant who serves as mentor, and private workshops and virtual conferences are also provided. The ultimate goal is prepare these future business leaders for assuming leadership in their businesses.

ABiz spoke with Beduze about the program:

ABiz: Where did the idea for the Rising Leaders Forum come from?

Beduze: Da Vinci specializes in working with families of wealth along with the businesses they own. It is rare to come across a family-owned business that doesn’t periodically find itself facing significant challenges whether that is between children in and out of the business, succession issues, fairness versus equality, generational differences, step-children and step-parents, all the way to the struggles caused by addictions and health issues.

There is a truism that is used around the world in every culture — shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations; rice patties to rice patties; wooden shoes to wooden shoes — that point to the very low percentage of family-owned businesses that survive beyond the third generation. In fact, only about 30 percent of familyowned businesses survive into the second generation; 12 percent are still viable into the third generation, and only about 3 percent of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond.

Given the complex issues family businesses face and the odds against their success, it became obvious that rising leaders needed a resource to hone their skills, learn from each other’s experiences, and to support and encourage one another.

Why is it important? Family businesses play a significant role in every community. Approximately 9 percent of the businesses in the U.S. are family-owned and -controlled. The influence of these firms is pervasive as they contribute somewhere between 30 percent and 60 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and half of total wages paid. It is in everyone’s best interest to see family businesses grow, thrive and survive.

As you said, the odds are obviously stacked against successful, multi-generation family businesses. Why do you think that is?

While there is a myriad of reasons, it primarily comes down to a lack of early preparation: grooming successor and getting people’s financial houses in order, to name but a few.

Are there special challenges to taking over a family business that other businesses don’t face?

A family business incorporates three separate but interconnected “systems” of family, owners and the operating company with uncertain boundaries, different rules and different roles. Family businesses are different from other businesses due to the inclusion of family and relational bonds among family members.

What does the program entail and is there a cost?

Currently, we are just offering a series of introductory breakfast meetings for rising leaders to experience the benefits that can come from conversations with their peers in a forum environment.

These introductory breakfast meetings are complimentary due to Arsement, Redd & Morella CPAs and Mass Mutual’s desire to support and promote family businesses in Acadiana.

Each 90-minute meeting involves 10-12 rising leaders who participate in a facilitated discussion about issues related to life as a member of a family business and the obligations, responsibilities and challenges that come with that position.

Those family businesses represented at earlier meetings ran the gamut from the area’s largest companies to those just breaking through a million or two of revenue. They were pleasantly surprised how much they all had in common — regardless the size differences — and what they learned in such a short time.

What is Da Vinci Global Consulting? Da Vinci Global Consulting LLC is an emerging national consulting firm that, as its name implies, brings innovative and creative concepts and solutions to privately-held, family-owned businesses all the way to global leaders. It specializes in bringing right- and left-brain thinking to derive solutions that integrate the power of technology with the artistry and creativity of highly functioning human systems.

What would you like to communicate to Acadiana’s family-owned businesses?

Family businesses face unique challenges, but now they have a new, dynamic resource that can empower their family and business to achieve its full potential and purpose.

Is there a single most-important aspect to successful family businesses?

I will offer two: faith and love.

The next Rising Leaders Forum is scheduled for June 25 at the Petroleum Club. For more information, call Don Bacqué at 233-3259, Ext. 6.

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