Over the years of my work with business-owning families I have had the privilege of collaborating with many successful individuals, whom I greatly admire.
- There is the founder with an idealistic spirit, exceptional sales ability and sharp business instincts, whose greatest sense of accomplishment comes from never having laid off any employees – even in times of hardship. Though he is the sole owner of his business, he seeks input, truly listens and builds consensus with others.
- There is the hard-driving leader who has built a business on the strength of her work ethic and determination to ‘do the job right.’ While she drives all around her hard – all are clear that she drives herself the hardest. Demanding and ambitious, she also mentors and develops all who come into her circle and devotes a tremendous amount of energy to her church and family.
- There is the next generation young adult who always struggled in school yet persists to complete a degree, while working full time to learn business and develop more ‘practical skills.’ Not content to simply ‘fulfill the obligations’ of the family employment policy – he has worked for several years in a related business, developing industry contacts as well as knowledge he plans to bring back when he does eventually join his family’s business.
- There is the second-generation leader whose intelligence and quiet resolve have allowed the business he owns with his brother to flourish where competitors have struggled. Though revered in his industry he shares the limelight and all ownership decisions with his brother, and has comfortably transitioned out of the leadership role.
The point of these stories is to highlight that there is no one path to success in a family business, or anywhere else for that matter. Sometimes we spend too much energy looking for ‘the formula’ for success – when in truth the search should be for your personal path. For the most part, when people arrive at success it is because they have a vision of where they want to go with their potential, and then put one foot in front of the other towards that goal. Make sure you are on the right path, because if you aren’t – no matter what you accomplish, you will not have achieved success for yourself.