How A 27-Year-Old Leads Her Family's Business
BY Tim Rice
Ashley Fina is the third generation at the helm of Michael C. Fina, the Fifth Avenue retailer and employee-recognition company. She talks about how she and her cousins divvy up responsibilities.
How I Did It: Making a Family Business Work
Ashley Fina has found the secret to mixing blood and money as the third generation President of Michael C. Fina. The trick is to know and enforce the divide between being an owner and being a leader.
00:00 Ashley Fina: My name's Ashley Fina. I'm owner and President of Michael C. Fina's Employee Recognition Division. We work with corporations to take all of their business objectives and allow their employees to earn points for accomplishing those objectives or performance milestones. We work with over 800 corporations and have over 300 employees.
What unique challenges do family businesses face?
00:29 Ashley Fina: Often, with family businesses, people are not necessarily put in roles based on their capabilities. One of the things that we have acknowledged early on is that you have to set up people's roles and responsibilities based on their capabilities. People didn't always have set roles and responsibilities and so no one knew who is in-charge of what and, so we weren't so efficient as we needed to be. I think the challenge was moving from that environment and seeing the light that we really will be so much more productive and successful if people have specific goals and responsibilities. Otherwise, the business won't succeed and grow as we want it to.
What advice can you give to other family run businesses?
01:20 Ashley Fina: One of the things I can always recommend to other family business owners is when having these discussions, which are not easy discussions to have, is bring in someone from the outside. Whether it's a trusted adviser, trusted accountant or a consultant, it's key to have someone who really remains neutral, and, of course, though that everyone from the family trusts and likes, to set the initial criterion step back and be able to do it initially of separating leadership from ownership. It's extraordinarily hard to have an unbiased opinion if you're a family member.