My family business clients all have various amounts of what every family has: closeness and harmony, as well as distance and conflict, to name a few elements. And, they share various levels of involvement in a business – leadership, management, ownership, or simply working there to see if that is what they want for the coming decades.
Being tightly connected to family can put a smile on your face, or a pit in your stomach – and sometimes both. I love having both my sons home from college early due to this awful Coronavirus outbreak. We work out in the backyard (they make me work harder than I would without them) and they make me laugh constantly. The empty nest is a bit too full at times (dirty dishes, smelly sneakers, piles of dirty clothes) and, when it comes to how fast food disappears, too empty.
I fully appreciate the upside; it makes the rest almost insignificant.
This Coronavirus pandemic has been stressful for many of us in all kinds of ways. And yet, there have been positives. More people are outside walking and they are smiling and saying hello with more enthusiasm and in greater numbers than usual (albeit from 6 feet away or more but still more friendly). Members of the gym I normally go to are posting their own workouts and even working out together virtually. In general, I’m finding people being more supportive during this shared crisis.
Consistently, my family business clients have learned to find silver linings during tough times using the competitive advantages family businesses possess. They tend to be patient with long-term horizons so they can be strategic, and do not demand results in months but in generations. When ownership groups are doing the work to stay cohesive around a common vision, they can make quick decisions under duress unlike non-family businesses of comparable size. Often my clients have employees whose families have been loyal team members across generations. They treat them exceptionally well – with respect and compensation – and these employees can be relied upon.
One of my family clients has expertise working with hazardous materials and is making a strategic shift to virus-related cleanups of offices and other buildings. Other clients are working with loyal, long-term employees and vendors to be flexible and creative in order to keep revenues flowing and everyone employed.
This whole Coronavirus pandemic really stinks (most polite term I can put into a public blog!) Family businesses have the flexibility, long-term view and loyal employees/vendor relationships to help us all weather it, and I’m grateful for their strength and resourcefulness.