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Determining Vision Vs. Reality in the Family Business

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Determining Vision Vs. Reality in the Family Business

The next generation needs to have the visionary and the realist. There must be compromise between the two. One without the other can run the business into the ground. The visionary without the realist who asks the hard questions creates a business that follows every new trend. Not all trends are good. The realist is usually so cautious that they never get on the upswing of the bell curve. They are the late adopters and implement something after it is mainstream, passing up the opportunity to gain a competitive edge. It is sort of like installing a fax machine in 1995 when email was becoming the predominant tool. The fax machine was leading-edge back in the 1970s and was going out of style by the time the 90s rolled around.

New blood. This becomes one of the greatest challenges for family business owners. As the company grows, employees need to be part of the future of the company. Yet what growth is available to non- family members? Unless you have a really huge family that all want to work in the company, there will need to be non-family members. Assuming you are hiring good, qualified team members, they don’t want to be in the same position doing the same thing in five or 10 years. They want growth and opportunity. Is there potential for growth in your business? If there isn’t, then make sure that is clear upon hiring; otherwise, continual hiring and replacing employee’s impacts profitability and the running of the business.

It is your choice if you want a career path for employees. That is the joy of being the business owner. If you don’t, then measure the impact of not being able to hire the best for the business. The best will always want to grow. Those who want to be in the same place probably won’t last anyway. It is your choice, but understand the cost of your decision.

The best advice I heard from the owners of a family business on this topic was: Don’t hire people unless you know their desires to advance. There are many people who want a job and that is it. They can be long- term employees who you can build a wonderful business with without the challenge of creating an advancement path.

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