Annual Shareholder Meeting for a Small Business

by Jana Harvey on July 11, 2009

In California if you're a C Corp,  it's mandatory to hold a once a year shareholder meeting.  This is always a stressful time for us even though (in an earlier post) we mentioned how fortunate we are to have such a great group of shareholders. 

This is our 5th year anniversary.  A milestone for a small business.  It's impressive to see how important small businesses are to our economy.  Here are a few highlights from Small Business Association: 

  • Represent 99.7% of all employer firms
  • Employ about half of all private sector employees
  • Pay more than 45% of U.S. private payroll
  • Have generated 60-80% of net new jobs annually over the last decade
  • The average annual revenue for a small business is $3.6 million
  • The average annual revenue for a small business with a website is $5.03 million 

We have structured our corporation "Creative Wine Concepts" with the philosophy that it is a shareholder company for the shareholders.  The annual shareholder meeting is a great opportunity to bring all the company owners together to get to know each other and have a good time with their company. 

Over the years in all the wineries I have built and run I always had a policy, "any home winemaker that brought me their wine, I would evaluate the wine both tasting it and by laboratory testing and make any suggestions on what I would do if the wine were my wine".  These people not only became good customers for the winery's wines but when we started Createve Wine Concepts, they jumped at the opportunity to become shareholders and winery owners.  

To get these shareholders involved we developed a policy called, "tag along rights" meaning any shareholder that wishes to tag along can come along with me on whatever I'm doing that day.  If I'm going through the vineyards pulling samples at harvest time, they come along and help.  If I'm doing lab work and blending wine, I put them to work running alcohols and tasting the different blends.

This makes for a fun company with lots of owner participation.  The shareholders get to be involed in a winery and its operations only to the extent they want to.  We have have been fortunate to have a diverse shareholder group.  They have designed labels, produced videos, poured at wine tastings, sold wine, written pieces for us, provided good sound MBA type business and financial advice, driven truck during harvest delivering grapes, helped on the bottling line, helped with securing good pricing on bottling materials, among many other things. 

When  we get together once a year for the mandatory shareholder meeting, this diverse group comes together with a common goal, "to be part of a financially healthy wine company that is a leader in developing some of California's finest premium wines".  The wines are a true reflection of their combined efforts.

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