Running a family business is unlike any other venture. While it can be a wildly positive experience for all involved, it can also create a host of business and personal problems. And those can come in many forms.
Often, the second generation has a dramatically new or different idea about the direction of the business. Take Kathy Cheng, who modernized her father’s garment business WS & Co. with a new product line and sophisticated marketing. “Textile-wise, my father has so much experience, but he was never into sales or marketing, and felt that as a manufacturer we always had to be behind-the-scenes,” she told Canadian Business earlier this year. “But we couldn’t wait for business to come.” In fact, handing off the company to a child, niece or nephew can be troublesome for all involved, as Joanna Pachner details in this PROFIT feature from 2010:
The grim statistics on family business longevity are well known: 70% do not survive to a second generation, and 90% do not make it to a third. What often destroys these companies is… “the soft stuff”: parents resisting a new strategy the child advocates, a father and a daughter frustrating the staff by pulling in different directions and other ways in which familial relationships interfere with the good of the business.
Sometimes, family ties and/or obligations will prevent a founder from selling, which investment banker Ed Giacomelli details in this BusinessCast podcast. Other times, a founder will struggle to determine which of her children is capable of taking the reins.
Too often, tensions in the business spill over to the family dinner table—and vice-versa.
Do any of these challenges sound familiar? Do you work for a family owned or family run business? We want to hear from you.
PROFIT and Canadian Business are currently conducting a study regarding the unique needs and challenges faced by family-owned and family-run business (both public and privately owned) across Canada. We would greatly appreciate your help!
To participate, please click the link below: https://www.r-connect.ca/R.aspx?a=870. (A French version of the study can be found here: https://www.r-connect.ca/R.aspx?a=890.)
All of those who complete the online survey will have the opportunity to enter into a draw for your choice of a new Apple iPad with retina display or a new Apple iPad Mini.
With your help, we’ll be able to provide some greater insight into what it takes to run a successful family business in 2014.