Family businesses have a different set of circumstances, then regular businesses, which they should be aware of.
This article will attempt to address some of the strengths and weaknesses of a family business, so that you can help to improve your family business, by addressing the weaknesses and optimizing your strengths.
First I will start off by addressing the 3 main weaknesses that come with owning a family business.
1) Less Concern over profits – Family businesses sometimes have a tendency to focus on things that don’t necessarily bring their company the most profits. They will often try to lower the price of their product, and raise their products quality, which will usually hurt the companies profits per sale.
Family businesses tend to have much lower profit margins that publicly owned companies. Studies have shown that the family businesses tend to have half the profit margins of publicly owned companies. This is partially do to the fact that public companies feel required to show growth, in earnings were as private businesses usually don’t feel as much of an obligation for increasing revenue.
2) Non-Financial Goals – Small business owners have the ability to pursue their own goals. These desires and goals may not always be in the companies best interest. Publicly owned companies on the other hand feel pressure from the share holders, and thus will be much less likely to do things that aren’t intended to help the company.
3) Nepotism – Family businesses sometimes feel an obligation to promote and hire family members, solely because of their relationship. The business owner(s) will often overlook people that are better suited for the job, in order to hire family members who may or may not be the best choices. This can wipe out a companies profits, and cause problems within the company.
Next, I will mention the strengths that family businesses have over public companies.
1) Greater Sacrifices – In family businesses, the members of the family are more likely to work extra hours, and get paid less, because they know that they are helping there company, and they are working to help their family. They will often not take dividends unless the company has a surplus cash flow.
2) Company Loyalty – There is less turnover in family businesses, specifically with management, this makes it much easier to keep employees for long periods of time. In non family businesses the managers of a company will often go to a competitors company, in order to get an increase in salary, or they may even set up their own company. If a family member does decide to quit the family business, it is very unlikely that they will go to work for a competitor.
3) Greater Employee Interest – Employees for family businesses are interested in improving the companies profits where as the employees of larger public companies, will often just work the 40-hour workweek, and then go home. Taking their salary with them. Family business employees on the other hand will try very hard to make sure that their company is successful, often putting in extra hours.
4) More Teamwork – Members of family businesses don’t have to try to figure out the motives of their fellow employees, they know that whatever the other employees want will usually be in their and the companies best interest. This makes communication, and teamwork much easier.
For any business it is essential that the company recognizes its weaknesses and deals with them, and that they also recognize their strengths, and try to utilize them for the biggest advantage. If you are the owner of a family business, you should figure out what your companies strengths and weakness are, and what you should do about them, to try to benefit the company the most.