Top Tips for Running a Successful Family Business


Family businesses are serious business. They are far from the comedy fuelled TV series of crazy family run restaurants where the uncle is yelling at the mother who is ordering around the daughter who is... you get the idea. Family businesses, successful ones, are built on proper structure, values and good business sense. According to the Institute of Family Business, there are 3 million family run businesses in the UK, while states that in the U.S, 90% of all businesses in the U.S are family-owned companies. This confirms that family businesses are the backbone of society and hold a strong position in the overall productivity of the economy.

Some of the most wealthy and successful brands in the world are family run companies, such as Walmart (worth an estimated $421.85 billionm, and probably one of the most successful family run businessses of all time), Ford ($128.95 billion), News Corp ($33.4 billion) and Mars ($30 billion), to name just a few. But what is their secret? What decides whether your family run company will become a long term success or a short lived nightmare?

Here, we have compiled some of the most valuable tips to ensure you run your family business towards prosperity and long term growth.

Tip 1. Business comes first, family comes second

While in the workplace, all family members must put the interests of the business before all else. Decisions need to be made with an objective point of view rather than a personal one, and family problems should never be brought into the office. Clear daily, weekly, monthly and annual objectives should be put in place to help all business members to focus on specific targets and think objectively.

Tip 2. Base the integrity of the business on merit, not inherit

The worst thing any family run business can do is to operate on a self entitlement and ‘inherit’ basis. Just because your family work alongside you, or for you, this does not mean you should put their desires and wants over and above other well performing staff or above the best interests of the company.

Tip 3. Don’t be biased when hiring staff

Yes, your nephew may be out of work but is he really the best fit for the job vacancy, or for the vision of your business? You cannot base you recruitment strategy and internal talent on family bias. Always consider who the best candidate for the job is, and put the skills of that individual at the forefront of your decision when it comes to deciding who will take on a position of authority and influence in your company.

Tip 4. Hold one another accountable

If your family members are under performing or acting in such a way that affect the growth and future operations of the business, you must hold them accountable. Concrete goals should be put in place for each individual family member according to their abilities and job description. If these goals are not met or the person in question continually fails to make a concerted effort, cuts must be made.

Tip 5. Instil clear, open lines of communication

Communication is key to any successful business, but it is even more so the case when it comes to running a family business. Why? Because families often experience a breakdown in communication in the home, and if this evolves in the workplace, the results could be disastrous. Your business will become stronger when all active family members have open lines of communication with each other and are able to communicate problems big and small as and when they arise.

A bonus tip is to fully embrace and appreciate what your family brings to the business. Each individual member will provide something vital that others cannot. Whether they get on your nerves round the dinner table or not, in the workplace a mutual respect must be given (and earned).

Do you work with family? Let us know your experiences below! How do you cope with working in close proximity to family members on a daily basis? 

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