Family businesses are often the pride and joy of the entrepreneurs who created them – especially if the business has flourished and has been passed down for multiple generations. However, no matter how successful a company is or how many generations it has survived, conflicts can significantly undermine the company’s continued success. Some of the reasons many family businesses run into conflict are over:
- Company Resources: Money, money, money. Historically heralded as the root of all evil, money is often at the root of all family business troubles. Resources are limited and folks must be compensated, leaving plenty of opportunity to squabble over nickels and dimes.
- Company Strategy: Strategy is a substantial part of running a successful business. Without a similar outlook with regard to strategy, the business will remain at a standstill. Sometimes, discussions regarding strategy will cause disputes because one family member may believe that Strategy A is the best course of business, whereas another family member vehemently believes that Strategy B is far superior.
- Company Values: Often times, interests and values will change over time, and family members from different generations will value different aspects of the business. Family members running a family business must have the same outlook for the company and aim to reach the same goals. Otherwise, the business will remain stagnant until these differences are resolved.
- Company Rivalry: Just like sibling rivalry is very real, so are rivalries within a family business – so much so that the best interests of a company can take a backseat to upstaging a competing family member.
So with all these possible issues of contention, how can a family successfully run a family business without the family baggage? Here are some options to consider implementing:
- Appoint independent directors: Having independent directors will ensure that someone with an objective perspective is monitoring the family and offsetting any improper family influences. The family will monitor management, and this independent third party will monitor the family.
- Hold regular family meetings: Don’t wait for issues to arise before scheduling a meeting – have them regularly and in taking such preventative measures, perhaps some conflicts can be avoided altogether. Specifically include shareholder sand those who influence the decision-makers.
- Evaluate performances: By evaluating performances, the business can have an objective look at how employees are performing (or not performing). This ensures that employees are promoted and compensated not for their familial relationships, but for their commendable performance.
- Talk to a professional: Have a professional evaluate your family business – perhaps they can help your family build a business succession plan and help resolve other issues involved in your family business.
Business succession planning is a highly complex area of law. If you have any questions regarding your family-owned business, please contact the experienced business attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri for further information. The attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri have decades of experience handling complex business succession matters and we are happy to offer you a free consultation.
Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.