A family business is a business that likes to think of itself as a family business. It will usually be under the significant influence if not control of one or more families, members of which might hold positions of responsibility in the business.
Estimates of how many family businesses exist vary - but according to some estimates the majority of all businesses around the world are family businesses.
Family businesses have the same problems as other businesses, but they have additional problems too. Many of these are tied up in the relationship between the family and the business, with implications for relationships between family and non-family members of the business, organisation development, ownership, performance management and reward, personal and business planning. Many of these are governance issues and can be addressed by introducing the appropriate structures and communication and management channels.
Another key challenge facing family businesses is succession from one generation to the next. Unsurprisingly many family businesses fail to make the transition successfully. Even those businesses that succeed will find attention drawn away from key business matters when succession issues are being addressed. Coaching and support for senior management and directors is key.
Family businesses, on the other hand, have key strengths – strong cultures, influential value sets, and the ability to thing and invest for the long term. Family businesses are also characterised by people who care. For families in business the business is ‘our business’ not ‘the business’.
For many family business members the problems they experience are once-in-a-lifetime problems. Rupert Merson LLP has handled these problems frequently and with tact and discretion for family businesses from a wide range of industries and countries.