For a few years I had a great gig as a columnist for Cisco’s iQ Magazine, writing about the growth challenges facing small and medium businesses (SMBs) in a column called “Growing Pains.” I got to interview small businesspeople, consultants who helped them, and academics who studied them, and try to give SMBs practical insight and advice for common challenges.
This piece from 2006, titled “Not All In The Family,” talks about the challenge of bringing an outsider into a business that had, previously, been run by family members. (The linked file is a three-page PDF; the article is no longer online.) Making this transition for family businesses was, and remains, a common challenge, particularly when family ownership enters the third generation. The column holds up well, I think, and is full of interesting stats. Plus, I had forgotten until I re-read it to post here that I had interviewed Nick Parham for it.
A favorite snippet: “But family businesses are at a crossroads. Many of these companies were originally created after World War II—veterans were as adept at creating businesses as they were at building families.”
If you have worked for or with a family-owned business — or owned one yourself — please share your experience.