Multi-generational family businesses are not a thing of past times. They are alive and doing well. Nearly one fifth of small businesses in the U.S. are family-owned. There are distinct advantages to this tried-and-true business model.
Pride helps to inspire success. There is often a lot of pride in a business that has lived through the generations of a family. That pride inspires one to work hard for oneself and the generations before and the generations after. It has become part of the living history of the family. Family workers also have a vested interest in each other’s success.
Multiple generations working side by side expand the skill set within the business. The younger generation can learn from the older generation what has worked and what hasn’t. The younger generation can keep the older generation up to date with current trends and technology. For this to work and for the business to move forward, the different generations need to keep an open mind. The baby boomer generation tends to be strong in customer service, team building, structure, and routine. The millennials and gen Xers are typically stronger with new technology and digital marketing. They also tend to come up with creative solutions and work well without structure. Combining these skill sets strengthens the business now and for the future.
Family businesses are more likely to keep their employees during downturns. They are generally quicker to invest in employee development and to reinvest into the business. This combination results in more loyal, harder-working employees and saves the company money in the long run.
Employees of a family business have usually grown up with the business. They have gained intimate knowledge of the business through dinner table conversations, going to work with their parents or grandparents, helping out and more. Along with this invaluable knowledge often comes a strong work ethic.
Strong work relationships lend themselves to success. It provides for worker involvement and satisfaction. When these bonds are highly valued, people work at higher levels. Family members often have an understanding and associated tolerance for other members’ quirks and idiosyncrasies. This can lead to greater camaraderie and a stronger team. Do, keep in mind, that the team or family business is only as strong as the family.
Family-owned multi-generational businesses have unique advantages. The work and strengths of the different generations can coalesce into a common goal. Along with the strengths of working with family does come the drawbacks. The advantages of family pride, intergenerational education, and strong relationships need to successfully balance the potential disadvantages of arguing and entitlement. Having the common goals of business and family success is powerful and can lead to a very long and rewarding business life.
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