Family businesses: a specific support
Why did you choose to accompany family businesses?
In my opinion, family businesses are a little-known model, even though they represent the great majority of the economic fabric and provide most of the jobs in France, Europe and the entire world. That’s why I wanted to analyze, and even model, what makes them unique and what allows us to explain their outperformance, through a new 3 "C" model:
Control - a factor of cohesion and independence,
Continuit - characterizing the long-term perspective and the desire to transfer the company within the family,
and the additional Social Capital - a set of specific and hard to reproduce resources that result from these two elements, associated with local roots.
While family ties can be a source of conflict, the ability to find a balance within the family business releases a very positive energy. My mission is to help shareholders structure the capital and organize the governance of the company, to get the best out of it. In so doing, I enrich my profession, which echoes a family vocation, with an absolutely exciting emotional and entrepreneurial dimension.
What advice would you give to family businesses to make the most of their specificities and to take advantage of their own positive energies?
There is only one way: to grasp the subject, and not to hesitate to be supported. When I intervene, I begin by listening to each member of the family, whether they are involved in the business or not. This simply because, under French inheritance laws, if the transfer of a company is not anticipated, each child is destined to become a shareholder. To anticipate a generational transition, we must be wary of non-dictions, beliefs and implicit inferences that can bias decisions. I help the family I accompany identify the lowest common denominator of any possible agreement. I also help identify and quantify different scenarios for the evolution of capital and governance. It is on this basis that we can build a project for the company and for the family, which can then be described in a family charter. At the end of the process, technical solutions (transmission, shareholder restructuring, etc.) naturally follow. Clarify objectives before choosing and implementing technical solutions. This is a simple principle, that can apply to everyone, but that is even more essential in family businesses!
How can young generations be included in a family business? How to combine a model renewal objective with a coninuity goal?
To succeed in the long term, a family business must know how to combine prudence and audacity; it must renew itself without losing its identity. To do this, we must involve the younger generations and give them enough autonomy so that they can appropriate the business project. It’s not always easy, because you have to manage the risks of disagreement: it’s the complexity and wealth of a family business… But there is not only one possible role for younger generations: you can be a shareholder in a company without running it, provided you play your role as a shareholder. Like any investor, the family shareholder must ensure that the risk/profitability couple remains satisfactory to him. If this is no longer the case, he or she must be able to find liquidity, which must therefore be organised upstream. But the first generation can also pass on to their children a taste for entrepreneurship… without passing on the company!
In parallel with your activity with family businesses, you are founder and president of voxfemina, can you tell us about the actions of the association?
Despite the increase in the presence of women in the media, we find that their speaking time remains lower than that of men. To move towards a better balance, we work to identify and present credible women as experts to the media. For the past six years, we have organized the “Femmes En Vue” contest: the winners selected by our jury of partners benefit from a media training and leave with a video that will serve as an audio-visual signature.
Valérie Tandeau de Marsac: A graduate from HEC (1982) and a lawyer (since 1996), Valérie Tandeau de Marsac chose to specialize in supporting family businesses and entrepreneurial families I 2010. Her firm, VTM Conseil FamilyBusinessLaw, imagines and implements legal and tax engineering solutions for shareholders and entrepreneurs, start-ups, buyers or family businesses in France (SME(1), ETI(2) or large groups). Valérie Tandeau de Marsac is also a founder and President of voxfemina – Paroles d'experts au féminin, an association created in 2010 to promote the visibility of women’s expertise in the media.
(1) In France, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are those which, on the one hand, employ fewer than 250 persons and, on the other hand, have an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million or a balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million.
(2) In France, an ETI (“Entreprise de Taille Intermédiaire”), meaning intermediate enterprise is an enterprise with between 250 and 4,999 employees, and either a turnover not exceeding EUR 1.5 billion or a balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 2 billion. A company with fewer than 250 employees, but more than €50 million in turnover and more than €43 million in balance sheet total, is also considered an ETI.
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