Starting and building a family business is both rewarding and challenging. It can put a strain on relationships and then bring families back together. It can also provide you with a wonderful legacy to pass down to future generations. Here at EZ Office Products, we know the joy and stress of having a family business as well as anyone.Read More >>
Gary Molz began working for his father’s office supply company, BF Molz, when he was only 13. Years later, Gary and his wife, Rose, moved halfway across the country and opened a branch of BF Molz in Madison, eventually launching an independently owned office supply company, the present day EZ Office Products – as a family business.
Our experiences have taught us valuable lessons about growing a family business.
Family comes first. Businesses fail, and you can always find a new job. But you only get one family, so it should always be the number one priority. Every new business has growing pains, whether it’s a family business or not. If family can persevere through your company’s growing pains, the business itself is more likely to persevere as well.</br>
Family doesn’t get a free pass. Family may come first, but that doesn’t mean you should blindly tolerate a family member’s poor work ethic, attitude or incompetence. Family business is still business, and you can’t have two sets of rules for family members and non-family members. Enabling mediocrity hurts company morale and your bottom line.
Family must communicate. Communication is the bedrock of a family business, whether your business is thriving or struggling. If it’s thriving, discuss how you can work together to build on that momentum. If it’s struggling, you need to be able to openly discuss potential solutions to problems. Also, don’t be afraid to seek outside help.
Family must be passionate about the business. You can’t rally a family around a business if they can’t get behind your product or service, and how it will help your customers, with every fiber in their being. Regardless of the product or service, the family has to believe what you’re in business to sell. If you have a family member who isn’t passionate about what you’re selling, they probably shouldn’t be involved in the family business.
Family should share the same dreams and goals. Do you want your company to be a local business with a strong community presence? Do you want to become a regional player? Do you want to take it national? Conflicting aspirations make it difficult to succeed and can cause a rift in the family. From a strictly business perspective, you can’t have two separate goals and expect a strategy to work.
The family business must evolve as the family evolves. Have a short-term plan and a long-term plan for growth. Groom family members so they’re qualified to assume leadership roles when their time comes. First and foremost, make sure your family business is evolving to serve the evolving needs of its customers, not your family, and keep the big picture in mind without losing sight of the task at hand.
What do you feel is important to growing a family business?