Earlier this year, I did a blog post on the importance of “Family Businesses in the Economy.”
Most of us patronize these businesses, but probably don’t think much about them. Who are the owners? What types of businesses do they run? How successful are they?
Prior to retirement, I was part of a group of individuals who looked at these and other questions. Some of our questions have focused on the exchange of resources between the family and the business. That exchange offers great opportunities but also can be a trouble spot if family members do not feel some sense of equality.
Recently, our team has completed a fourth survey with the same set of business owners giving us a look at how family businesses have performed over time. It also examined the strategies used during the U. S. recession of 2007 to 2009. Our review included how the businesses fared as well as more on the strategies used both during the recession and since then.
As might be expected some of our family businesses experienced a downturn during the recession with some closing their doors. Finances, health, and retirement were the leading reasons for closure.
Yet, other family businesses said it was a strong period for them. This was the case if they had steady customer demand, a strong market, and fewer competitors.
In terms of changing practices or strategies during the recession, nearly one-half of businesses who said they experience trouble made no changes. Those who did make changes more often had family members work without pay, changed the number of employees they had, and had other relatives work in the business without pay.
In our work, we also looked at changes in the global market place that impacted family businesses. During the period covered by our last survey (2006 – 2017), the growth in the online world occurred. Positive revenue increases were found when a family business focused on a single or small set of online options and either dedicated part of an employee’s time to do so or hired a outside consultant.
This overview is offered to give you some ideas of what worked and what didn’t in family businesses just like yours. Learning from others like us can have a great impact on your business.
To learn more about the early results of our study, check out:
- Webinar presented for North Central Regional Center for Rural Development – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjB0tgnjuzc&feature=youtu.be
- PowerPoint slides:
Family businesses build strong economies. Get some tips on how you can sustain and enhance your business and its contributions.
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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.