You will find a family business in one out of every 10 households.
Family businesses contributed over $10 trillion, by one estimate, into our U.S. economy.
Family businesses generate over 50% of U. S. business revenue.
Family businesses employ over 50% of the U.S. workforce.
Do you get a sense of my topic this week? Yes, it’s the role and contributions of family businesses to the economy.
Family businesses are found in all segments of the economy, from large (Walmart) to micro in size (one person working off of their table after they work another job all day and handle their family responsibilities). And you will find them in every segment of the economy but dominating in farming and retail.
The family business is a unique entity as it combines the traditional business system along with the family system. And all of this is done while being a part of the larger community system.
With these connections, family businesses can, and do, have the ability to use the resources and time of family members in helping to get work done. They also have been found to be more successful when the community is supportive of the business.
Yet this intermingling and exchange of resources is often a two-way street with businesses providing resources, beyond a paycheck, to the family as well as being a supporter of the community. Such community support, though, is often tempered by the perception of the business owner as to how much the community is supporting them along with business revenue and the age of the owner and the business.
The most common community support provided by family businesses includes direct and indirect financial support. In communities that are struggling, the amount of this support only grows as do we see the involvement in community leadership roles of family members.
Technical assistance is another form of support offered by family businesses to communities.
I have had the good fortune to work on the Family Business Research group for some time. As these businesses are so prevalent and important in rural communities, a better understanding is helpful in developing a stronger group.
Recently the group has released a 20-year highlight newsletter. You can find it at my website, https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/smallbusiness/documents/family-owned-business-research-highlights-2016. You can also find a list of the over 400 publications from the group and the annual reports that have been filed.
According to Heck and Stafford (1999), two members of the research group, the importance of family businesses to our economy and society is only exceeded by the family unit itself. They are a vital economic engine. Their support will help everyone grow.
If you operate a family business, thanks and good luck. If you know a family business owner, stop in, say hello and check out their offerings.
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.