Proven Ways To Strengthen Your Family Business
With 70 percent of family businesses not making it to the second generation, how do you ensure that your business beats these odds? The biggest reason that business families fall apart is that the family hasn't developed the kind of culture that supports keeping the family business in the family. Families that leave this to chance rarely make it to the next generation.
How do you create a culture that ensures longevity of the business? Promotional Consultant Today shares these tips from business author Mitzi Perdue.
1. Know your family stories. How much does your extended family know about where the family business came from and what made it what it is today? How much do they understand the sacrifices, efforts and tenacity that went into making the family business you have today? Do they know stories about family members putting the good of the family ahead of their own interests? Be intentional about telling these family stories. The more stories, the stronger your family's culture. This creates a great foundation to help the business endure.
2. Take family vacations. Your family vacation could be five people or 100 people, but whether it's a large group or a small one, having aunts, uncles and cousins spending time together greatly increases the chances of building a family business that lasts. A vacation means time set aside to share experiences and to get to know and appreciate each other and to embed the family's values. It's a time for all branches and all generations to build the shared stories and memories that lead to trust and caring. This is especially important if family members are geographically dispersed, because it allows extended members to get to know each other.
3. Subsidize family vacations after you're gone. All too often, when the family patriarch or matriarch passes on, family members stop seeing each other. Maybe for the first few years they're together at major holidays, such as Thanksgiving, and then they may get together for weddings. But gradually, there are no memories left and family members have superficial relationships—or no relationship at all. A highly effective antidote to this is to leave money in your will to pay for a yearly get-together. Some families subsidize an annual dinner while others pay for a nice vacation. Either way, having an endowed yearly meal or vacation can keep families together across the centuries. Endowed family get-togethers can be a highly-effective tool for helping the family continue across the generations.
4. Write a family newsletter. In a geographically dispersed family, a newsletter can play a huge role in helping the family to maintain a strong and vibrant culture. Include in it interviews with the older family members or employees about the early days and some of the company's struggles. The newsletter can also help family members catch up on family news— maybe someone became an Eagle Scout, got into the college of his or her choice or got a promotion. It's also excellent for recording weddings, births or, in the case of an engaged couple, telling the story of how they met. Other topics for your newsletter can include news about the company, including company milestones.
5. Get help if you need it. Fortunately, there's a whole new ecosystem of family advisors who can help you build stronger family ties. There's no such thing as a family business that doesn't have conflict, and when there's a serious family conflict, the pain from it can permeate every hour of every day. Even worse, conflicts can affect the whole family, and with it the family business. So just as you'd get medical help if you if you had alarming chest pains, don't put off getting professional help if a conflict in the family is affecting your family business.
Family harmony is an important investment for your business. Take these steps to create a family culture that is a solid foundation for future business success.
Source: Mitzi Perdue is a celebrated speaker, businesswoman and author of How to Make Your Family Business Last. She draws from her direct experiences in two long-lasting family enterprises to assist businesses in preparing for lifelong success. She is a past president of the 35,000-member American Agri-Women, a former syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard and the founder of CERES Farms.