Being a shop owner comes with its fair share of challenges. A successful shop owner must learn to develop an abundance of both professional and personal skills just to overcome daily challenges. Add family dynamics into the mix and those challenges can either become multiplied or made easier.
Family businesses stand at the forefront of the national economy. I believe it is something like roughly 60 percent of the American workforce is employed by family-owned businesses. However, we all hear horror stories about working with family members. Either someone had a terrible experience hiring a son or daughter, opening a shop in partnership with a spouse or even going to work for their parent’s repair shop. There are endless reasons why those unique situations potentially did not work out, but I wanted to focus here on the positive side of the equation. When it does work out well, a family business can potentially be built to last for generations. A well-integrated family team can have enormous advantages and can outperform more traditionally structured businesses over the long term as they are typically built for legacy.
My experiences working within my family’s business for the last 15 years has taught me to recognize the advantages we possess by being family-owned and run. Knowing the advantages of a family-business can be critical so opportunities can be gained and threats reduced.
You likely will never hear, “Sorry, but that’s not in my job description” in a
family business. Family members get the job done and are usually more willing to wear multiple hats and to take on other responsibilities outside their normal job roles to ensure the success of the company. This can be critical especially in the early stages of opening a new shop when operating budget may be a weakness.
People want to be proud of the work they do and the way the company does
business. Family businesses generally have very strong values and take excellent care of their people. They often create a culture pointed toward doing the right thing and valuing relationships. These features can become a competitive advantage. People will seek these traits in a workplace as people want to be a part of a company they love and are proud of.
Long standing family businesses can be good at weathering storms and
resolving conflict. They can achieve and maintain stability in its leadership and overall organizational structure and culture. This creates better security for the business’s customers, suppliers and employees.
Vision and Long-Term Goals
Family businesses are built for the long-run. They tend to be built with future generations in mind. Can you imagine starting a business that will be around 100 years from now? Family businesses deploy the strengths of multiple
generations funneled into a common goal of succeeding, both as a family and as a company, to create impressive longevity. They tend to be less driven by short-term financial results and are rather focused on long-term goals with purpose.
Next Generation Ingenuity
Family business have an opportunity to create a lasting legacy.
Building on the efforts of past generations is a strong motivator for next gen to carry the business to new heights in the name of the family. A smart family business keeps its edge naturally when it brings in the next generation.
The long-term success of a family business ultimately lies in its ability for the family to involve and engage its members so that they take responsibility, commit and deliver genuine value back to the company. If you are able to recognize these strengths, family can be your biggest competitive advantage.
Drawing from my experiences, some further advice I would share with other owners who bring family into the business is:
- First, expect family members to work twice as hard as other employees.This is key to earning employee respect;
- Second, never fight in front of the staff. Always show your unity;
- And third, always remember, family is priority—no matter what. There is no business or money more important than the relationship with your family.