A: Every family is different, yet there are many similarities between family businesses across all types of industries. It boils down to family dynamics.
Think about your family and jot down some notes. These are questions that can affect how well the family works together for its own benefit and for the good of the business:
- Are there multiple generations in the family business?
- How involved are family members in the ownership and operation of the business?
- Do certain family members have more power to influence decisions, due to financial stake or family position?
- Who is allowed to have input and who is not?
- Does the family have a history and methodology of making good decisions?
- Is there a habit of family intensity, emotion and hurt feelings when it comes to change?
- How does the family perceive and react to situations of justice and fairness among members?
- Are there members of the younger generation who feel it is their turn to run the business?
- Are there new and former spouses, estranged children, ex-family members with a stake, or other permutations that must be considered?
- What role do non-family members have in the future of the business?
I recommend working with an expert who is specifically trained to help family businesses create a common vision and make plans that require effort and follow through. Throughout the process, there must be respect, trust, integrity and professionalism. My family went through this process with a consultant, and it changed everything for the better, from operations to interactions.
A family-owned business is a treasure worth investing in.
About the author: Rock LaManna is president and CEO of LaManna Consulting Group, a consultancy that helps motivated graphic arts businesses position for growth, succession or sale. Visit rocklamanna.com to learn more.