family business

You’ve Inherited the Family Business: Now What?

A thought that has occurred to every person who has ever taken up the reins of a family business, whether it’s the second generation or the forty-fifth, is not just, Am I going to be successful at this?” but, Will I be able to maintain this business well enough just to say I didn’t screw it up?”

It is an intangible question. Even when you pass the reins on to the next generation, you still look at your family business and say, Did it really succeed as much as it could? Would the generation before me have done better?” No family business leader is unique in asking this, nor are family businesses as a whole unique in asking this. We all ask this question at some point in our lives. Did we do our best? Did we do as well as earlier generations would have done?

Leverage Your Family Values AND Your Unique Strength

These questions can only be answered by how well you live your values. Values are reflected in everything: from your principles to how you maintain your customer relationships to how you care for one another to how you run your business overall.

You can’t live trying to fill the footsteps of those who went before you. I only learned this after my father passed away. He was a larger-than-life person, whose shade encompassed many, and I was one of those who took comfort in that shade. All I can do is live the values that my parents taught me and teach those values to my children, and maybe continue them in our business while seeking to move ahead.

When you strive to live by the values that were so key to the foundation of your family’s business, you honor the stewardship of those before you. But remember, you have an opportunity to add to the business through your skills and adherence to your values and the values of your family company.

In the end, no matter who sits at the helm of the business, when you have good, solid values, people recognize that. The trust that adhering to your values engenders not only creates a sense of unity and greater bond between team members, but it also serves as the rich soil in which loyalty, mutual respect, honesty, and a sense of responsibility can grow.

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