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Dynamics of a family business

Not many of us can imagine working with our family and then going home with them as well. The dynamics of a family business isn’t for all but it can also be special and successful if done right. Family businesses are great examples of the passing of knowledge down through generations and are generally unique in their business offerings and have an authenticity that corporate businesses and franchises simply can’t replicate.


With the technology and health advancements of today, family businesses aren’t being passed on as much as they are being expanded. Family businesses, these days, are multi-generational and it’s both a great and challenging thing.

Having the older generation still working and being an active part of the family business is a symbol of consistent business values and a following of an original and life-time client base having every reason to stay invested and supportive of this business. It proves a problem, however, when younger generations come in and expect to be handed the keys and take over with new business advancement ideas that Grandpa Joe doesn’t like or understand.

But, having the “original” owners (or those closest to the original start-up business) makes it easy to stay true to the history of the business and see that the original visions and principles are carried through. After all, the history is part of what makes family businesses different.

Outside insight

A good investment for family businesses is to bring in outside insight to objectively monitor and be honestly critical about the operations of the business. It’s already extremely difficult to not have bias against your own business but even more so as a family business owner. Even though nothing should be taken personally (it’s just business, after all), you don’t want to be the creator of tension in the workplace that will just be transferred to your personal and home life.

The dynamics of a family business is to “keep it in the family” but don’t be blind to failures and find someone who can provide constructive criticism and bring the business back to reality when family politics go a little too far.


There must be a fine line between bringing home with you to work and taking work back home with you at the end of the day in a family business. From the word go, boundaries need to be set on what is acceptable in the workplace and what is inappropriate “work talk” for home.

In the family business, it’s necessary to understand your role and to treat your employment as you would in any other business. Finding a balance is difficult but not impossible.  

Experience required

Just like the success of any business relies on the ability of their workforce, so too does a family-run business. Hiring on experience, qualification and capability won’t compromise the business structure or success. If family members joining the business all need to complete a performance managing skills course from Kwelanga Training – then everyone must complete it. No exceptions.

When you start compromising for your family employees just because of bloodline and feelings of family obligation, you can expect business to start suffering. Let the younger generation go out and find work experience outside of the family business. This will ready them for the position that awaits them or will help them figure out if getting into the family business is something they actually want to do or not. Forcing family into the business does not set up a generation of successors or success.

Family fun

Families mean love and support and bringing those concepts into the family business allows for new memories and fun times together. The business itself may not be unique to the market but the family dynamic, which is unique to each family, is something special. Stay authentic in who you are as a family and translate that into your work life. This doesn’t mean shouting across the room as you would across the house, but keeping it comfortable and playful like it would be at home.

Customers are looking for a distinctive consumer experience and walking into a family owned and run store, where generations of traditions are alive, makes them feel at home and part of the family. How’s that for a distinctive experience?