Family-owned businesses are unique to other kinds of business enterprises.
When relatives work together, it can be the best of times – or the worst of times.
Family businesses face all the pressures that other small businesses face, as well as the added challenges that come when generations of the same family work together.
Today, it is estimated that as many as 90 percent of American businesses are family owned. Here are five tips from the Small Business Administration to help in the management of a family business:
1. Remember: In business, business comes first
Home life should be left at home when the workday starts. Decisions need to be objective, not personal. And the boss/employee relationship must be accepted by everyone.
- Develop and communicate a clear business plan and mission.
- Establish a clear chain of command and lines of authority for decision making.
- Communicate clearly and often with family and nonfamily members.
2. Consider a nonfamily member to oversee operations
A strong manager from outside the family might be the key to having operations run smoothly and objectively so that the owner can focus on business planning and strategy.
3. Learn to deal with family discord
All families have discord from time to time. The key at work is not to side with one family member over another and not to let family disagreements impact your business.
If there is one family member who continues to create problems, consider a transfer or a discussion about a new line of work.
4. Try to teach skills to “hangers-on”
If you are unlucky enough to have hired a family member who is a hanger-on at your company and doesn’t have any useful talents or doesn’t really contribute to the company, work with that person to try to cultivate skills that can be useful to the company.
Try to identify potential skills and interests, and possibly ask a nonfamily member to mentor the problem employee.
5. Prepare the next generation
Many family businesses don’t make it to the next generation. How can you ensure yours will? The key is to begin preparing for succession early, to identify the right family members to continue leadership of the business, and to set goals for transitioning.