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Just got back from Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise, bi-annual symposium. I spoke at the conference on the topic of “How I Nearly Ruined My Family Business and Lived to Tell About It”.
Q: What is it that makes family business so unique?
A: It’s the fact that we are combining two challenging areas – family, with all of its interesting dynamics, and business with all the competitive pressures of making money and keeping customers happy.
Q: Being part of a family in business must bring some strengths as well…
A: The survival rates of family business and their longevity is because the same bonds that keep a family together, help keep the business together. The family’s values are usually geared to long term success. And family business often contributes alot to the communities they are located in.
Q: So what tips do you have for families in business?
A: Here are a few ideas for greater success…
1. Keep your business from destroying your family and your family from destroying your business. I remember my younger brother, who wasn’t in the family business saying that it was no fun to get together because all my dad and I did was talk about business. We learned to keep the business talk to a minimum and focus on what was happening on a personal level outside the business. Some business families even have special family meetings just so that everyone stays informed. On the other hand, try to keep family issues from impacting the business – I’ve seen family conflicts and sibling rivalries keep a business from growing – or I’ve seen family members become demotivated because Mom and Dad pay everyone the same no matter what their job responsibilities are in the business.
2. Before you ask family members to work in the business, insist that they work outside the business – for as much as 5 years. That experience – working for someone else will teach them alot about job responsibilities and allow them to prove themselves – then they can bring those talents into the family business.
3. Join an organization that understands family business issues. I joined the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise back in 1992 when I bought my business from my dad. I now have a built in support network to deal with both family issues and business issues. To get more information, just visit my website www.LeadershipWizard.com
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