Author Archive for Dave Dudon

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The Role of the CEO’s Spouse

Monday, February 20th, 2012 by Dave Dudon

Those who have read my past articles in The CEO Advantage Journal know that I am intensely interested in family businesses. This passion arises from my own experience as the second-generation CEO of a manufacturing firm. I’ve known both the joys and the struggles of operating an enterprise that matters so much to those I care about most. It’s one thing to have a wife and children depending on you; it’s another to have parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews watching, as well. Indeed, it is a solemn responsibility–and a fulfilling one.

Family businesses have unique issues, but every business has at least one family to whom it is a family business whether the outside world characterizes it that way or not: the CEO’s family. To run a company effectively, one has to live and breathe it. Many hours are spent at work, and even the hours at home are often occupied with thinking of issues at work. In that sense, the spouse and children are wrapped up in it, too.

Shelves abound with books professing to help CEOs run their businesses, but not much has been written about the role of the CEO’s spouse. My recently published article in the 2012 edition of The CEO Advantage Journal explores the critical role of a CEO’s spouse in the life of the CEO, the family, and the business.


Questions for the Family Business Owner

Monday, January 31st, 2011 by Dave Dudon

The following is an excerpt from my recently published article: “Strategic Planning in the Family Business.”

Have you thought about the Envisioned Future of your family and your business?  Have you written them down?  This is incredibly important.  Both the family and the business should have a clearly worded vivid description of the future.  Will a family member always be running the business?  If not, how will you structure the leadership while maintaining ownership?  How will the authoritative roles of the family and business leadership work together?  Who in the family will be involved, and how will you determine this?  What if future family members don’t want to be involved?  How will you approach a sale?  What will happen to the profits?  An exit strategy is perhaps the most important component of any strategic plan.

These plans are not set in stone; you should revisit them annually and revise them based on current events and understandings.  But write them down.  It will help you focus your activities on both the family and business side, and it will eliminate surprises and misunderstandings down the road that hurt feelings and threaten to tear your family and business apart.


The Power of Incentives

Thursday, August 19th, 2010 by Dave Dudon

Cutting costs while preserving a productive culture can be a struggle.  After all, cost reduction – especially when it requires layoffs – is not a recipe for increasing morale.  However, you may be able to cut costs in a way that not only minimizes pain, but also increases morale.  Just look at the incentives.

Even people of high integrity naturally show less discretion when spending someone else’s money than they do with their own, so create incentives for your employees to treat company money as if it were their own. 

For example, if you give a department a spending limit for a project, what you’ve actually done is provide an incentive to spend that much money whether it’s needed or not.  Instead, what if you allowed that department to keep what they don’t spend for future projects – or maybe even employee bonuses.  Now you’ve given them more than purchasing power; you’ve given them actual money, and their habits and decisions will change accordingly. 

I’m sure you can come up with even better ideas, but the point is that structuring incentives in the right way will minimize waste, maximize profits, spur innovation, increase trust…and lift morale.


Cash Management: Why the Recovery Might Be Your Toughest Challenge

Thursday, August 19th, 2010 by Dave Dudon

Many businesses are worried about surviving the recession, but they should be just as concerned about surviving the recovery. 

To understand why, think about a deep sea diver.  No matter how skilled or experienced he is, he is limited by the amount of air in his tank.  He can’t create more air once he goes under, so he must reserve enough air for his return to the surface or he won’t be diving again.

For businesses, cash is like the diver’s air.  As sales decline and revenue drops, you may have enough cash reserves to survive on the “bottom” for awhile, but when it’s time to return to the top, will you have enough air to make it? 

Be smart about your cash usage.  Be proactive.  Be innovative.  If you don’t, the return of the “good times” may be your toughest times yet.