October 1, 2020

What Does Success Look Like?

After falling down the rabbit hole, our friend Alice engages the Cheshire Cat in a conversation:

Alice: “Would you please tell me which way I ought to go from here?”

Cheshire Cat:  “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

Alice: “I don’t much care where.”

Cheshire Cat:  “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Within that memorable Alice in Wonderland script of Lewis Carroll is a message of profound importance for privately held and family business owners. Alice was lost. But even worse she had no destination. This is the equivalent of an owner not being able to define success:

Cheshire Cat:  “Where do you want to go?”

Owner:  “Well, that’s hard to explain.”

Cheshire Cat:  “Really? Then anything you do will get you there.”

Shrewd owners know where they want to go. Where they want to take the business. They can define success – not only to themselves but to their employees. These owners, without hesitation, can answer questions like:

  • “Is it important for the business to go on after you, or is this a lifestyle business?”
  • “What are your measurable and time-bound objectives?”
  • “What impediments are or could get in the way?
  • “Are you confident you know and understand how to value your business?”

Answers to these questions put your business on a path to success. They also help employees connect their job responsibilities to a greater purpose. This breeds confidence and enthusiasm. It’s no wonder then that defining success is the starting point for a conversation between a family and business owner and a good advisor.

Perhaps if Alice had known where she was going she would have avoided those run-ins with the wacky Mad Hatter and vengeful Queen of Hearts. But we would have lost a great fairy tale and a good lesson for privately held and family business owners.

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About RobinAnn Bienemann
I come across as classy, sassy and pretty in pink even as the CEO and Founder of Crimson Rook, LLC. For 30 years I served in executive positions in manufacturing and technical fields and did it wearing 4” heals with a flowered briefcase! Here’s what I do: I specialize in helping businesses become scalable, sustainable and transferable. I know what distinguishes successful companies from those that struggle – it’s my gift of sorts. My accomplishments include being one of the first women to run manufacturing operations in Silicon Valley, serving as Senior Vice-President at Blue Arc, a $60M computer storage company in San Jose, CA. I serve as the Entrepreneur in Residence for the University of Connecticut’s Schools of Business and Engineering and as a board member of a regional non-profit supporting sustainable agriculture and economic development. As CEO of Crimson Rook, I have been a strategic advisor to more than forty companies over the years and have now taken that talent and expertise to the Mastermind & Peer Group world with the launch of the Family Business Cooperative - a year long program designed for Academia - helping them launch Family Business Programs. I am a creative and effective meddler I’ve done this in the affairs of business and academia and have created alliances in both public and private companies and government that span domestic and international borders. I am a bicoastal grandparent with the affectionate title of Grammie Bubbles. My skills beyond business include chemistry in the creative spirits department and singlehandedly providing the color pink its most deserved recognition. I have received my BA from Springfield College and Masters of Science from MIT’s Sloan School of Management as a Sloan Fellow. The title of my Master’s thesis was “Entreprenurial Redeployment in Large Organizations.”

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