In a recent study of large successful family businesses, I noticed an interesting trend. Families businesses that have spent generations discouraging family members from entering the business are now developing programs to pull them back into the fold. They have learned that in their efforts to ensure that only the most qualified members of the family entered the business, they have discouraged family interest in the business.
While businesses only become old and successful by having strong management, family businesses also need to maintain owners’ interest and engagement in the business in order to survive as a family owned entity. So, many of our study participants are putting in place orientation programs for next generation family members to help them learn about the business and increase the chance that the most qualified will elect to join. Regardless of whether the family members join, the business benefits from well-educated owners who appreciate the business and may one day take on important responsibilities on the board of directors or family council.