Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business

Best Practices

The Best Practices will provide tips for answering Application questions to tell your family’s story most effectively. Use these Best Practices to better understand the submission and judging processes. Please note that all information submitted to the Family Business Center of Loyola University Chicago's Quinlan School of Business will remain confidential. 

How to write a winning application

  • Tell Your Story: The survival of your family business has no doubt experienced ups and downs. Tell us about how the business got started and how your family has come together to help it survive and thrive.
  • Highlight the Involvement of Multiple Generations: Each generation has added and continues to add value to a company. Tell us about how each generation has contributed and how they continue to be involved.
  • Back it Up with Numbers: Share with us important figures that back up your prose. It will help us to understand where you have been, where you are, and where you'll be going.
  • Make Sure it is Well Written: No story is a good story if it is poorly told. Make sure that you proofread your Application before you submit it, and check for spelling and grammar errors.
  • Make Sure you Answer the Question: If you need clarification, email us, or call us at 312.915.6490.
  • Stick to the Specified Word Limit: We know how excited you are to tell your story, we just ask that you stick to concise, meaningful answers doing so.
  • Discuss Your Future Aspirations: Identify any opportunities or plans for short-term and long-term growth, and what processes you are implementing to move forward.

Helpful tips for specific application questions

Use this information to answer specific Application questions. Please only address the highlights that pertain to your business and provide relevant insight into the company's operations. When answering your application questions, please provide succinct answers and stick to the 600 word limit suggested. All sensitive information will be kept confidential by those involved with the judging process.

  1. Some of the key issues that you should address in Question 1 include, but are not limited to:

    a.  Clear description of the business

    b.  History and evolution of the company

    c.  Industries your company serves

    d.  Your primary products and services and how your company positions itself within the marketplace

    e.  Market size

    f.   Scope of the business (domestic, international, both)

    g.  Family involvement

    h.  Rankings (if applicable)

    i.   Growth in employees over the past year/years

  2. Some of the key issues that you should address in Question 5 include, but are not limited to:

    a.  Briefly discuss any succession plans that you have in place and the methodology of decision-making that went behind determining the successor

    b.  Identify the succession plan of the company owner as they plan to pass the business to the next generation 

    c.  Discuss any preparation assistance the company is providing to successors

    d.  Identify any outside resources you have used to aid with this process

    • Do you have an advisory board or any other key advisors aiding in the process?
    • Who are you engaging in the transfer of wealth process and what role do they play?

    e.  Provide a 3-5 year growth plan and any relation that is has to succession of the business

  3. Some of the key issues that you should address in Question 9 include, but are not limited to:

    a. Provide a performance picture of the following financial information:

    • Sales
    • Revenue
    • Margins
    • Profitability
    • Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization
    • Stockholders' equity
    • Liabilities and debt
    • Capital intensity of the business
    • Comparison to other competitors in the industry/marketplace

    b.  Discuss what drives numbers up or down (input prices, raw materials) and how you manage these resources

    c.  Identify where past growth has come from

    d.  Identify future growth opportunities and obstacles to growth and how they're being managed

    e.  PLEASE NOTE: It is helpful to relate the most previous financial statements to previous years and address any gains or losses in terms of percentages. This information remains confidential.

    f.  Provide a year-end summary for revenue and net profit/loss if any explanation is needed.

  4. For any company who is reapplying for the 2015 Illinois Family Business of the Year Award (i.e., submitted an Application between 2012-2014): It is important that you provide updated financial information for the judging process. This will ensure an adequate assessment of your Application.

Need Suggestions or Advice?

Contact us at 312.915.6490 or email us.