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How to Overcome Family Owned Business Pitfalls

Members of a family owned business gather and smile

Photo: Freepik

The family owned business holds a special place in the entrepreneurial landscape. They blend the dynamics of work life, family life and tradition into a unique tapestry. These enterprises not only symbolize love and security, but they also demonstrate the resilience and tenacity of the human spirit. However, navigating the delicate balance between family and business can be a challenging endeavor. Working with family often means that you spend time with them outside of business hours and in situations you wouldn’t normally encounter coworkers in. 

Combining the dinner table with the conference room table isn’t easy and often, others can’t relate to the struggle. In this article, we’ll explore the intricacies of family owned businesses and how lessons from EO can make them stronger. 

The Essence of a Family Owned Business 

Family owned businesses embody a deep-rooted connection that goes beyond the traditional employer-employee relationship. They are driven by shared values, a common vision and a desire to leave a lasting legacy. Unlike conventional businesses, family-owned enterprises have the advantage of a strong emotional bond, which fosters a sense of trust, loyalty and commitment among family members. This cohesive force propels them forward, fueling their determination to succeed; however, they aren’t without their drawbacks. 

The Challenges and Rewards 

While the intimacy of family relationships can enhance communication and collaboration, it can also make it difficult to separate personal matters from business decisions. However, when harnessed effectively, this fusion of family and business can create a harmonious environment where innovation flourishes and relationships thrive. 

Strategies for Success 

To ensure the smooth operation of a family owned business and maintain a clear distinction between family and business, consider these three strategies. 

1. Establish Structure 

Even with family, your meetings should have a clear structure. By adopting proven meeting systems like EOS (Entrepreneurial Organization System), which my family business uses, family members can ensure that discussions remain focused, productive and aligned with the business’s goals. This structured approach fosters accountability and enhances decision-making processes, ultimately driving the business forward.  

It’s easy to slip into a business conversation with your cousins or siblings at a family party. But, when that conversation lacks your formal meeting structure things can become unorganized quickly. 

2. Embrace Meeting Moderation 

Hiring a skilled moderator or facilitator for important meetings can be invaluable. A neutral third party creates a safe space for open dialogue, ensuring that every family member’s voice is heard by slowing down the meeting cadence. Moderators also maintain civility and defuse tensions when conflicts arise, enabling productive discussions that lead to innovative solutions. 

3. Emphasize Family Time 

While it may be tempting to discuss business matters during family gatherings, it’s essential to prioritize quality time with loved ones. Engaging fully in the present moment allows for genuine connections and strengthens family bonds among family members you might not see during business hours like nieces, nephews, cousins and grandparents.  

Taking a break from business discussions not only nurtures personal relationships but also provides a much-needed respite from the demands of entrepreneurship related to a family owned business. 

The Power of Action 

In the realm of family owned businesses, talk is cheap without action. Conversations about the business can provide a sense of progress, but it is crucial to translate words into tangible results. Take decisive action, implement innovative strategies and adapt to changing market dynamics when you want to achieve sustainable growth and resilience in a competitive landscape. In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear wrote, “When you’re in motion, you’re planning and strategizing and learning. Those are all good things, but they don’t produce a result. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will deliver an outcome.” 

By combining the passion and dedication of family members with a results-driven mindset, family owned businesses can overcome challenges and make a lasting impact. 

This article was originally written by EO New Jersey member Vincent Finaldi, Vice President of TeleCloud, and published in 2022 at

Allie Frank

Author Allie Frank

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