“The single hardest thing for me was being between my sister and my husband.” – Kim Millman, former CFO and 2nd generation owner of Girlfriends LA - a teen apparel mail order catalog company, which she grew to over 200 employees, producing 30 million catalogs annually marketing to over 8.5 million teens and ultimately sold to a NY based conglomerate. Kim discusses the complexities of a family run business. She later says when her husband and sister didn’t get along - she felt like a human tug of war.
Kim shares how she started working in the family business at age 10. Both she and her sister were groomed to be the succession plan for her parent’s roles. With her father’s premature passing, Kim found herself as CFO at 23. She made the strategic decision to pivot the company towards mail order catalogs. In what she describes as a mind altering experience, Girlfriends LA received over 6,000 calls on the 1st day after advertising in a national magazine.
Kim shares why intrafamily business succession rates are so low and why it’s so challenging. Specifically, the impact of time, money and resources has on the future generations makes it very challenging to keep them interested in the family business. For most families, the future generations simply develop other interests.
Kim has since transitioned to practicing law specializing in estate planning. She feels she is uniquely positioned to help business owners since she understands the mindset of an entrepreneur. She likens it to childrearing and the push/pull of wanting the business to fly on its own versus keeping it all to yourself.
Lastly, she shares her 2 action items for owners: