Nike, Walmart, Porsche—what do these companies have in common? Outside of being globally recognized brands and generating billions in revenue, they are also family-owned businesses.

Though family businesses definitely aren’t for everyone, and come with some unique challenges, for those who are able to make them work, they offer an array of benefits that simply are not available to other companies.

If you own a family business or are thinking about starting one, focus on leveraging the following three qualities to gain an upper hand on your competition.

1. Solidarity: A lot of businesses say, “We’re like a family here,” but when it comes to being tight-knit, supportive, and committed to one another, there’s no substitute for the real thing. Indeed, a family business already has a level of intimacy and communication built in that would take years—if ever—to match in a traditional company.

This closeness can foster a sense of shared responsibility, teamwork, and dedication you won’t find anywhere else. What’s more, since these are the people you go home to at the end of the day, it would be hard to find a team with a deeper sense of trust and shared accountability.

On the flip side, working with family can trigger our deepest wounds around trust and betrayal. We strongly recommend you work with a guide to support your family into awareness around power dynamics and handling conflict.

2. Longevity: While turnover can be near constant in a traditional company, employees in family-owned business often start working with the company when they are children or young adults. This ensures that there will not only be well-qualified heirs waiting in the wings to lead the company when someone retires, but the entire staff will know the business’ operations from the ground up, which can be invaluable in terms of efficiency and respect.

In addition, with multiple generations on the job, you will have a built-in mechanism for keeping up with the latest trends, technology, and other industry developments without having to hire new people. This mix of old and new blood will keep the company on the cutting edge, while providing a solid foundation of wisdom and experience to fall back on.

Finally, with a well-crafted business succession plan as part of the family estate, the elders of the clan can keep the company’s core values and vision intact even when they are no longer at the helm.
If you want your children to work in the family business, it is never too early to begin talking with them about how they can get involved and to invite them to the business table.

3. Flexibility: If you need to take a few days off when your kid gets sick or just want some extra time to relax and recharge, you will likely find that your family will be much more flexible and amenable to your personal needs than would a regular boss.

Working with family, you will not only have more leniency when it comes to your work schedule, but they will likely be more forgiving when it comes to making mistakes as well as more supportive when it is time to make tough decisions.

But make sure you do not make the same mistake many family business owners make in thinking that you do not need legal agreements and clear boundaries in place just because you are family. In fact, you may need these tools even more to protect your family relationships in the long-run.

No matter how tight-knit and successful your family business is, with us as your Family Business Lawyer®, you will have access to a trusted, unbiased advisor for your legal, financial, insurance, and tax issues. Moreover, our experience in estate planning is ideal for crafting a winning business succession plan to ensure your family company thrives for generations to come. Contact us today to learn more.

This article is a service of Pantea I. Fozouni, Family Business Lawyer®. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business.