More On The Unique Strengths Of A Family Business

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Early last fall we ran a piece in this blog about why it’s good to be a family business. As the backbone of the American economy, family owned businesses enjoy some unique competitive advantages. A sense of quality and wholesome values… things that are solid, lasting, a name and reputation behind what they do, this is what the family owned business offers to customers and prospective ones.
Some examples of successful family owned businesses who hold onto their family roots include SC Johnson, E & J Gallo Wines and Columbia Sportswear.
An article by Cindy Krischer Goodman in the Miami Herald this week took an in-depth look at how family owned businesses are managing during these tough economic times. The story investigated a variety of businesses in different industries and found what you might expect of these hardy, hardworking entrepreneurs — they’re banding together, buckling down and facing whatever comes. Reassuring in the midst of all the gloomy economic news swirling about.
recent report published by the Institute for Family-Owned Business gives us the reasons why — family run operations have some pretty solid advantages that are especially valuable in this type of economic slowdown — flexibility, emotional support within the business, as well as solid relationships with both vendors and financial institutions.
These businesses can bend and adapt in ways that other companies, staffed by traditional employees never can. The report confirmed that a family business can adjust better during tough times, especially since it has employees who’ll work longer hours for less money… chip in on holidays and weekends… support each other as only another family member can. Everyone who woks for you has the same objective, the same goals and because you understand this, you’re likely to forgive a whole lot.
Add this to the business relationships that have been build over generations by the family. Suppliers know you. Banks know you. You’re involved in the community… a fixture. This takes time to build, but offers invaluable support when the economy turns.
This isn’t to say there aren’t challenges to a family run business — these certainly exist. Mixing family and business can be a dangerous combination… disagreements, power struggles and uncertainty take a toll. And yet of our nation’s 7 million businesses of less than 100 employees, 20% are owned and operated by families.
If you happen to be one of these, you probably know there are a variety of resources for family run businesses. As a happy co-incidence, BusinessWeek offers a special report on this type of business… tips on innovation, building a lasting business and how those quirky, free thinking Generation Y kids might just rewrite the rules. You might also look at some of the interesting internet resources out there now.

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