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GEW: Launching, running and scaling a family business

From the University of Miami School of Business

It takes individual talent, an entrepreneurial attitude and mutual respect for a family business to succeed, according to three panelists at a Nov. 19 School of Business event as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

"Both my sons have expressed interest in getting involved with our business, but I tell them there's no free ride, because I want the best people to come to the top," said Sandy Goldstein, president and founder of Capsicum Group, a legal and regulatory technology consulting company.

Goldstein was one of three Miami business owners who participated in "Keeping It in the Family - Family Business Night," an interactive panel discussion on starting, running and scaling a family-owned business. Susy Alvarez-Diaz, director of the School’s entrepreneurship programs, moderated the interactive session..

"Family-owned businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy," she said. "They account for about 50 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and 78 percent of all new job creation."  Alvarez-Diaz noted that the three panelists were at different stages in the family business trajectory, providing a variety of insights to students, alumni and other attendees.

For example, Katie Kessler, president and CEO of HSA Enterprises, runs a family-owned promotional products company with her husband Mark. "My husband and I live and breathe promotional products, but we have very different personalities and roles in the office," she said. "That's very helpful on the personal side. We also try very hard not to bring our work home with us so we can enjoy family time with our two children."

Vanessa Valera-Nolte grew up in an entrepreneurial household in Venezuela with her brother Diego Valera.  They co-founded Holstein Housewares in 2007 and now sell their innovative products throughout the U.S. and in 16 countries.  "I'm involved in marketing, public relations and design," she said. "My brother oversees sales and operations. We don't always agree, but we really respect each other. We both believe that success comes down to the talent you have in your company regardless of age or background."

Responding to a student's question about how to be successful as an entrepreneur, Goldstein said, "If you have a passion for running your own business, every day will be a pleasure."  Noting that his own career has included consulting and working for a large company as well as launching entrepreneurial ventures, Goldstein said, "It took me some time to realize I have the most fun running a smaller business.  If that's what you think you'll enjoy after you graduate, then go for it!"