Family operated companies have long been part of the backbone of American business. Many large companies and corporations started as mom and pop shops and many father and son teams have gone on to build successful enterprises. Ford Motor Company, Marriott International, Nike and even Wal-Mart were all family owned businesses.
Anyone who has ever had or worked for a family owned business knows that having family members working together offers some benefits and unique challenges. Here are a few of them.
The pros of operating a family business begin with an involved, interested and hopefully loyal workforce. Family members are frequently willing to work long hours for the greater good, and work for less than what an outsider may. They may also be more willing to bypass a pay increase in tough times, or at least defer pay. Generally, family members can be trusted to operate on the best interest of the company.
Because family members know each other better, they can work closer and may communicate better. Decision making is often easier and learning curves faster. There is also a great sense of accomplishment when a family works together in creating a successful business.
Of course, the long term benefits of building a successful family business includes financial security and more flexibility in working hours as the business succeeds.
As you can imagine there are plenty of negatives to balance the positives in operating a family business. Since family members are closer, they may bring more drama into the workplace. At the same time, work problems can find their way back home, often negatively impacting relationships. While family members can be more loyal to the business, they may also take advantage of their position in the company. Because family members often become part of a company due to their last name and not their skills level, some family operated companies can lack in specialized talents. It is also common for non-family employees to struggle in finding their place in a family owned company.
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