Family Business

January 18, 2019

My brother and I have only worked in our family business for almost 30 years now.

In 2014, my sister in law invited me to be a guest speaker on “Family Business” at her College.

What surprised me was the negative perception family businesses seemed to have with the students.

There is some merit in their perception (but at the corporate level of such businesses) – possible lack of advancement and growth opportunities; leadership development; HR stagnation; staff try to influence owners against operations; succession planning.

However, what I’ve come to realize – among other things – is the FLEXIBILITY & SPEED of decision making is a powerful overcoming factor.

All organizations have rules and regulations, policies & procedures.  However, in our family business there is a certain level of subjectivity with which we apply the “rules”.  My grandfather taught my father and us (he had a lot of “sayings” which he lived by) –

               Rules are made for fools

               And donkeys and mules

               And children in schools.


               Who makes the rules-                    you and I

               Who can amend the rules –         you and I

Rules are a guideline.  They are to help the organization to stay a certain path as envisaged by the Patriarch and founders.  However, there are times when we need to bend these rules- and we do this for humanitarian reasons.  For example, a heart operation isn’t part of the scope of our medical policy for family members- however, out of compassion and humanitarian reasons, we’ve bent over to help out the family and bear the expenses.

We’ll talk about more examples in future posts…till then, I hope I’ve whet your appetite on family businesses?


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