I always remember to be thankful that my father didn’t leave me shoes to fill. Neither did my mother – not in the family business capacity.
Not that there’s anything wrong with leaving a business for your children and so on. In fact, that’s actually the most effective way to build a dynasty. Several international businesses started years ago still have at least one family member involved in the everyday decisions of the company. Several international giant corporations are family-controlled enterprises – Porsche, Samsung, The Tata Group, Walmart, Ford and so on.
Personally, however, I do not like the idea. I realise my kind of thinking makes generational wealth accumulation incredibly hard, because what you have then, instead of a legacy or something from father to children, is a situation in which every generation has to start all over again, depending on what their ambitions are. Instead of simply taking over from their parents, continuing an already-established name/tradition, they have to get up and build their own thing.
Which is good for the development of a nation, I think.
A family business does not always consider the dreams and passions and ambitions of the children. It makes light of whatever they want – especially if and when it does not concern the company’s direction – and dumps enormous responsibility on them.
Sometimes, the children in this situation probably don’t even have the proper training and know-how to run the company their parents built. I’m sure we’ve seen it happen in movies and real-life – the about-to-retire Chairman/CEO names her child to succeed her and suddenly the entire office is in disarray. Some people resign. Some stay to frustrate the heir. Very few actually remain to offer their support, because the prevalent feeling is that they have been cheated out of their position.
Family-businesses have perfect conditions for long-term structuring, a business model that can span centuries and generations. They tend to focus more on survival than performance, often trading short-term bursts for long-term visions. And because of this, they tend to outlive their counterparts.
It’s almost mafia-like. The crime family or is not necessarily related by blood, but they share values, ambitions and goals. They stick to each other with a code thicker than blood, one that makes it almost a necessity to turn against one’s blood relatives in favour of the crime family. To grow a family business, the family too must be united in goals and vision. Varying values and ambitions at the helm in the same organisation will be a disaster.
In spite of the different challenges that may tear a family business apart from the inside, the prospects are not all bleak. If handled correctly, it can be a blessing to a nation. It definitely has a lot to contribute to national development.
The top earning and most consistent businesses in the American economy have been family businesses, ventures built by immigrants and so on. Asides from the income tax remitted to the nation’s coffers, there are employment opportunities that those businesses open up to the citizenry.
A stable company means a stable job – to a large extent. According to Forbes last year, 90% of the world’s businesses are family businesses. They are thriving even in today’s unsteady world economy. This, according to the report, is mostly because the CEO of a typical family-controlled company is usually a member of that family or someone (an outsider) they support. Such family backing makes the job smoother and negotiating tricky business situations easier.
Honestly, I don’t know if I would want my father to be my boss both at home and at work. But that’s just me.
What do you think about family businesses? Does the idea work for you? Why? Why not? Let us know in the comments!