Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business

secrets to running a successful family business father son company the lean startup

You’ve always dreamed of starting a family-run business that gets handed down through generations. But now that you’ve started a family, you have to figure out how to make the family business successful and long-lasting.

There are a number of advantages that come with running a family business, including a low turnover rate and the family pride that backs up your work. However, there are also many difficulties.

Small businesses today have to compete against large corporations that dominate the market. However, there are a number of things you can do to ensure success for family businesses.

Let’s go over some important tips on running a successful family business.


Stick to a Game Plan

Structuring your family business and working towards short and long-term goals is critical. This starts by creating a detailed business plan for your family business.

This family business plan should outline your management structure along with key roles the business needs to remain successful. You also need to identify your target customer and make plans for marketing campaigns.

You’ll also need to form business partnerships with vendors. For example, a family owned propane gas company would need to find a reliable provider of tanks and enter into a contract with them.


Keep Family Issues Separate

Yes, you’re a family-run operation, but to be successful you need to concentrate on business and leave family issues out of it. If you don’t, you could run into big personal and financial problems.

Don’t make the mistake of letting family drama alter your business decisions. If someone starts acting out of spite or anger, they could do something that hurts the businesses momentum.

If there’s a severe family issue between two employees, they must agree to set their problems aside when working. If they can’t do this, you may need to reposition them in the organization. In a worst case scenario, for a family business to survive one member may need to become a silent (part) owner or seek a new career entirely.  

Set up strict boundaries if necessary between your family life and the family businesses. Sometimes it's best to avoid talk of work at the family dinner table, and avoid personal family matters in the office. Keep work at work and don't bring it home to your parents, husbands, wives, children, and relatives.


Non-Family Employees

Most family businesses have employees who aren’t related. This is essential when staffing your organization with the talent it needs to succeed. You can't staff a business of more than a handful of people with only family members, especially if you have a small family.

Unfortunately, many times these employees feel they’ll never move up in business. They may feel they’re at a disadvantage because they’re not part of the inner circle of the direct family.

It’s important to treat each non-family employee like you’d treat every other staff member. They should never feel like management favors other employees because they’re family.

Your lean startup family business can’t be successful without outside expertise, so make these employees feel valued and respected. A good rule of thumb is to treat them like family to improve loyalty and performance.  


Solid Communication

Just because you’re family doesn’t mean you know what each other are thinking. To maintain business growth, you need to make communication a top priority. Communicate clearly with your family members face to face, by email, by text, by phone call, by video chat, and app chat.

Remember, you’re a small fish in a big pond. You can’t risk losing clients or providing sub-par service due to a lack of communication. That goes for any family business or bootstrapped startup company on a budget in general. Ask questions when you are unclear of  a family member's message or other communication

Make it a point to hold family business meetings on a regular basis. Everyone needs to be on the same page with regard to changes, procedures, and goals. You should also make sure to establish a healthy line of day-to-day communication that all employees must adhere to.


Establish a Successful Family Business for Future Generations

Although corporations dominate many industries, people still like smaller, family-run businesses. Running a successful family business offer a unique experience consumers don’t get with larger companies.

Use the tips discussed above and turn your family business into something you can pass on to your children. Keep it all in the family when it comes to your company. Family matters!

Read more articles about maximizing your profits as a small business here on The Lean Startup Life.

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