Author Q&A: "How to Make Your Family Business Last" by Mitzi Perdue

Mitzy Perdue

 About How to Make Your Family Business Last


 America’s family businesses are in crisis. From huge, multi-national corporations to tiny, local mom and pop shops, such businesses form the backbone of the American economy – and yet a whopping 70 percent don’t make it past the first generation. A mere three percent make it past the third generation.

This reality not only causes a huge dent in the U.S. economy and job market, it reveals a deeper fracturing in American families, with older generations finding themselves unable to communicate their vision and values to the next.

Why is this? Why do so many family businesses fail? What does it take to have a strong, sustainable family business?  And how can entrepreneurs make it so that their business not only survives, but thrives? 

In her latest book, “How to Make Your Family Business Last,” set to hit shelves on October 10th, bestselling author and acclaimed speaker Mitzi Perdue offers a fresh and exciting take on these questions. Combining academic research with practical, experiential advice, Perdue lays out a comprehensive plan for families and entrepreneurs who want to create a lasting legacy.

“Success in business is never because of the efforts or identity of one single individual,” said Perdue. “It’s always a matter of cooperation, collaboration – and, most importantly, culture. I’ve watched so many families go through immense pain because they didn’t have a strong, supportive culture – and I’ve seen other families thrive because they put the work in to shape the kind of culture that is conducive to success.”

Special note: author Mitzy Perdue is offering a $10 discount on her book especially for Secrets of Success blog readers. Go here to get your copy: http://mitziperdue.com/discount/

 

About Mitzi Perdue


Mitzi is a businesswoman, author, and a master storyteller. Her most recent book, “Tough Man, Tender Chicken: Business and Life Lessons from Frank Perdue,” was a bestseller on Amazon. She is also the author of, “I Didn’t Bargain for This”, her story of growing up as a hotel heiress.

She is also a professional speaker on family businesses, drawing on her lifelong observations as a member of the Henderson family (the family behind Sheraton Hotels), and of the Perdue family. She has presented in cities all across the United States on how to embed a positive culture across generational lines via practical, effective tools and tips.

As a nationally syndicated columnist, she has written more than 1600 articles, and as a nationally syndicated TV hostess and producer, she produced more than 400 half-hour shows. Additionally, Mitzi is also the founder of one of the larger wine grape companies in California, and she is a former president of the 35,000-member American Agri-Women, the oldest and largest American farm women’s organization.

Website link: https://mitziperdue.com/


Purchase book: On Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Make-Your-Family-Business-Last/dp/1884108075 or on her website where they can also download a chapter for free, https://mitziperdue.com/.


Deb Bailey: Welcome to the blog, Mitzi. What are some of the important points in your book?

Mitzi Perdue: Happy to be here, Deb. How to Make Your Family Business Last, a treasury of checklists, templates, resources, and tips, is about embedding the culture that it takes to make a family business last. Every family has a culture, but too often, the culture comes about by accident instead of by design.  When you leave the culture to accident, the family members may not learn the all-important lessons, such as,

"You can't always be right!" 
"You are a steward for future generations."
"Relationships are more important than money."
"Live beneath your means."
"Philanthropy is essential."
"Be someone whom others are justified in trusting."
"You're part of something bigger than yourself."
"You have a responsibility, not to just yourself or your family, but also to the employees, the consumers, the lenders, the suppliers…in fact the whole community.  In other words, it's not all about you!"


Deb: Those are certainly important things for family businesses to focus on. What inspired you to come up with the idea for your book?

Mitzi: I wrote these three books to share some of the ways that business families can join the 30 percent of family businesses that make it to the next generation--as opposed to the unfortunate 70 percent that don't make it to the next generation.

The pain that this causes in human lives can't be overestimated. When a family business fails, it doesn't just injure the family: It harms the employees, the suppliers, the consumers, the lenders, and in the end, the tax base of the whole community.

On the other hand, when a family business does well, at its best it can be a blessing to all the people whose lives it touches.


Deb: Well, I think your family business has done extremely well! You have a lot to share. What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

How to make your family business last book cover
Mitzi: Don't let fear of failure keep you from trying! Instead, redefine failure.

In my own career, up until my early 40s, I had never really done much with my education or whatever abilities I had.  Then one day, I realized what was holding me back: I was afraid of failure. 

That day, I decided to redefine failure.  For me, the only real failure would be not trying and not giving my all. 

My attitude ever since has been, "Just the act of trying makes you a winner.  As part of trying, you'll have learned new things, met new people, acquired new skills, and you'll be better positioned for the next time you try."

This played out in a remarkable way in my own life. As I said, up until almost my 40s, I really hadn't done much with my life.

But that year, I began trying for some things I hadn't dared try for before. I decided to no longer fear rejection slips and began submitting articles to magazines and newspapers.  I auditioned for a television show and then a radio show.

Within one year of losing my fear of failure, I began a career that led to my becoming a syndicated columnist, a TV hostess, and a professional public speaker. It also led to successful real estate investments.  

I got into women's agricultural politics and had the extraordinary joy of being president of America's oldest and largest farm women's organization.

Losing my fear of failure has meant gaining undreamed-of successes. But all of this meant huge amounts of efforts and countless times of falling on my face. And by the way, although I'm in favor of a positive attitude, I'm even more in favor of working like crazy, including studying, taking courses, attending conferences, reading books, practicing…in short, doing everything you can think of to improve your odds of success.

My challenge for each of you is: Are there any areas of your life where fear of failure is holding you back? When you try for something, are you giving it everything you've got, or are you holding back? 

Try redefining failure: It's not failure when you don't succeed; you're a winner for trying!  Win or lose, as long as you gave it everything you've got, that means that your efforts will be laying the groundwork for future success!


Deb: I totally agree! Fear of failure ends up destroying so many dreams. Speaking of dreams, a lot of people dream of becoming authors. Any tips to share with someone who wants to be published?

Mitzi: Some people are born writers, but for the rest of us, this means taking classes, studying books on good writing, and paying attention to what works for writers.  It also means a lot of practice. I figure that just as you can't be a good tennis player without lots of lessons and practice, you can't be a good writer without getting good advice and practicing a lot. As for getting published, although I've had 20 books published, today I'm a fan of self-publishing. My reasons are:

1.    Less Time. The publisher I use, R.J. Myers Publishing & Consulting Co. can have your book in print six weeks after you give them the final copy. With a conventional publisher, you'll probably have to wait a year.

2.    More Money. I've rarely made much money with conventional publishers because I was lucky if I made a dollar a copy.  But with self-publishing (and this will vary according to the length and layout of your book), I can pay $5 a book and sell it for $20. The profit all comes to me.

3.    Artistic Control. Trade publishers rarely allow you to control the layout or the cover design. That's important to me and I've been much happier with the results when I've been heavily involved.

4.    Distribution. The trade publisher can get you in book stores, but since 70 percent of books are sold on-line, and since 80 percent of my books are sold as part of my speaking engagements or media appearances, having the book in book stores isn't a big deal for me.


Deb: 20 books! That's terrific. Do you have a favorite writing environment?

Mitzi: Yes, my writing environment has to be phone-free. All my close friends know that I don't use the phone when I'm writing, and they also know that this isn't directed at them: I'm that way with everyone. I not only turn off the phone, I have it in another room so I'm not tempted. For me, phone calls, even if it's only a five-minute phone call, can take me 20 minutes afterwards to get back into the deep concentration that works for me when writing. I'm telephone dropout, by necessity.  I take comfort in knowing that there are many Millennials who look on a phone call as an attack, and I understand their attitude. 


Deb: Trying to stay away from distractions so that you can write is a challenge. You've accomplished so much, what inspires you to do the work you do?

Mitzi: I figure I have a mission in life, and it's to increase happiness and decrease misery. I love to joke that I would like to save the world, but since that's not on offer, the next best for me is to try to share current knowledge about how families can be high-functioning.


Deb: That knowledge is very valuable. What do you think are the top 3 traits an entrepreneur must have?

Mitzi Persistence, energy, vision.



Deb: Who do you think will benefit most from reading your book?

Mitzi: I'm in favor of all entrepreneurs reading this. It's so easy to put all your effort into building your business while forgetting the importance of family.  What good does it do to succeed financially and fail as a family? Our deepest sources of happiness over time will come from our intimate relationships, and it's worth putting in the time and effort to get this right, and I'm here to show you how. I share the latest academic research combined with a lifetime of observing what successful families did to create and maintain a strong, loving, high-functioning family.



Deb: Thanks so much for joining me on the Secrets of Success blog. Please share where your book can be found.

Mitzi: I enjoyed being here! If your readers would like an autographed copy, they can have it for $10 by going to this web address: http://mitziperdue.com/discount/  How to Make Your Family Business Last is normally $27.95.



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