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Key Idea: Put Family Ahead of Business

Peter Schenck decided watching his son grow up was more fascinating to him than the non-stop travel his customers demanded.

Key Question:


Peter captures a moment in all of our lives when we realize that ten years passed and it only seemed like yesterday.

"Intervals of growth" as a concept is not much discussed outside of fractal geometries, but our perception of time is quite fundamental to how we live our life and the key decisions that we make.

There is subtlety here that could escape our attention. Peter is pointing his finger at the deeper meaning and value of life: our children. So what is more important, family or business?

We take as our starting point a first principles definition of business as well as life. It is simple: business is creating order (the form) and continuity (the function). And the inverse valuation statement is, "Anything that creates disorder and discontinuity is not business and it is the antithesis of human life." Peter, Jim and Lorraine all created businesses with extraordinary systems, ordering mechanisms, so their business had continuity.

A second and third principle immediately follow and these are equally important. Business as well as life is next defined by relations (form) and symmetries (function).

Businesses that break relations, or attempt to sustain asymmetrical relations, are exploiters. When and where there is symmetry of relations, real value is created, and businesses grow.

The third principle pushes everything forward in time, creating those intervals, and here the form is dynamics and the function is harmony. To the degree that a business creates dynamic moments for customers that create, sustain or increase harmonies within their day are truly businesses that are cherished. Again, this is part of Peter, Jim and Lorraine's legacies.

But Peter hits us hard. So many of us miss the dynamics of our families, and our primary continuity equation is broken (that within our family) and often trouble breaks out. Peter and his wife are prescient, wise for their years, to stop and realize their real baby was growing up at home, and their intellectual baby (their business) was already willing and able to spread its wings and fly. Perhaps it is time for many of us to consider selling.

You are the only one who truly knows the right answer for you.

Think about it

Does your business stand between you and your children?

Clip from: Selling Your Business

Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, and Bend: Three people -- Lorraine Miller, Jim Schell and Peter Schenck  -- tell us why and how they sold their business.  Each wanted a change. They knew their business could live on and thrive, so they went to work to find buyers who could take the business to the next level.

Here is a rare opportunity to study those who have fully completed all eight steps within the business cycle. 

Go to all the video clips of this episode...
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We all must prepare today for the invevitable tomorrows.

Small Business Owners Everywhere in the world, We all will exit our business someday.

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Put Family Ahead of Business

PETER SCHNECK: I started a business in 1980, an advertising and marketing company, in a little tiny berg which at the time we thought was just perfect fodder for a small regional agency.
And we sat unknowingly on the verge of the Internet and all the computer communications that came. All of a sudden, we found that it didn't matter where you worked. And if you could deliver good ideas and good service, your geographic location meant nothing. So what had been intended to be a relatively small regional agency suddenly burgeoned to be something quite different with clients on both coasts.

HATTIE: What year did it hit you `I need to sell this business' or `I want to sell this business'?

PETER: It was kind of a realization. I would say, circa 1993, '94, in there. The company had grown substantially year over year, revenues were growing, relationships were growing, the number of clients were growing. And we suddenly came to realize two things -- one was that in order to continue to grow--and we had plenty of invitations to do so-- there were going to be a lot more airplane trips and a lot more times on opposite coasts and far away, which created both management and personal challenges.

The other thing was I had a personal revelation that our son was getting taller and taller and taller. And I'd see him in this window as I was departing, you know, kind of waving good-bye, and his head level kept going up and up and up. And I suddenly realized I was missing the intervals. I was missing the time in between the recognition of those spaces.

I came home from one of these trips and said to my wife, `The kid's 13 years old. He's gone in five years. Do we want a bigger company, do we want more zeroes in the checkbook, or do we want a family relationship with our son?' And she was feeling a lot of the same anxieties I was in terms of just the tenor and the intensity of work.

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