Pros and cons of family business

Accepting Dad's offer of a senior post in the family firm is no longer the soft option it once was. Family businesses, like all businesses, face global competition and rapidly changing markets.

by Stanford Business Magazine
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

The resulting emphasis on professionalism has made family firms both more daunting and more attractive - and, according to the latest issue of Stanford Business magazine, has created a new interest in them, from family members, outsiders and MBA graduates alike.

But while family ties can make doing business a pleasure, they can also complicate already difficult decisions. For some people, joining the family firm can be a launch pad for a new career; for others, however, it is a burden they can't shake off. The question of succession also haunts both the current leaders, who wonder if their children will take over, and the next generation, who wonder if they want to.

The advantages of joining a family business can, in certain cases, quickly turn into disadvantages. Family businesses tend to have very strong cultures and are less likely to be driven by short-term profits, which can make change difficult.

Likewise, the emotional ties among family members can enrich the business experience - or complicate it. The decision to join the family firm also seems more final than taking a job with another company: deciding to quit after six months could lead to some tense moments over Christmas dinner.

Source: Stanford Business magazine

Reviewed by Nick Loney

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