Team Effort: What You Can Learn from the Most Successful Family Businesses

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Family businesses are major contributors to the United States’ economy. According to Family Enterprise USA, they contribute up to 57% of the country’s gross domestic product. They employ over 63% of the country’s workforce, too. And it’s no surprise that there are over 5.5 million of them in the country. Creating and running a business with the people you love and trust the most is rewarding; more so if you make it successful. 

Family businesses have a track record of success. The country’s biggest firm, Wal-Mart Inc., is family-controlled. And so are other well-known companies like Nike, Comcast, and 21st Century Fox. So what did these successful family businesses do to rise to the top? 

Businessman and family graphics to symbolize family business

Comcast: Choose the Right Successor

Keeping it in the family is not as easy as it looks. According to the Family Business Institute, around 30% of family businesses in the U.S. manage to survive the transition to second-generation ownership. Professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers also found that although more than 58% of family-run companies in the country have a succession plan, a lot of them aren’t set in stone. 

If your company is quite new, you probably haven’t thought of this yet. However, it’s essential to your business’ growth in the long run. Brian Roberts, the second-generation owner of Comcast, grew the company’s value by 63% from 2002 to 2013  through multiple successful media mergers. 

Roberts started working at Comcast when he was just 13 years old, according to a profile by the L.A. Times. Growing up, he went to countless corporate meetings with his father, the late Ralph Roberts. He worked the poles and cables for the company after he finished business school. It’s this tenacity and hunger for the business that you should look out for when choosing a successor. 

Beyond the love for the work, they should also display a thirst for innovation and growth. Brian was relentless in buying companies he thought were beneficial to their brand. He even went for firms that were bigger than Comcast, but somehow made it work. While you think that your potential successor may be in over their head with their big ideas, it won’t be long before they hit gold. 

Samsung and Mars: Diversification, a Path to Victory

Chef in a restaurant preparing pizza

Your current cake delivery business may already be doing well, but it’s not weird to search for the startup costs of a pizza restaurant if you want to enter that industry, too. Family businesses can find success in diversifying their business portfolio. 

  • Samsung tried out different niches, from food processing to retail, before settling on consumer electronics. Even if they are specializing in this field, they still offer a diverse product range. Whether you need a top-of-the-line smartphone or an oven, Samsung offers it. 
  • Mars, Inc. started out with hand-dipped chocolate. Since then, they’ve expanded to ready-to-eat meals with Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s, and pet food with their Pedigree and Whiskas brands. 

If you’re not sure about what kind of business to get into, ask your family members. If you have the funds, take their suggestions on. It’s the first step to building a business empire. Plus, it’s always good to have a fall-back if your current venture isn’t successful.

Though being content with your family business is perfectly fine, your success relies on your preparation for the future. Companies like Comcast became a household name because of their second-generation owner. Samsung and Mars continue to run their own entrepreneurial kingdoms because they diversified their offerings. Whatever your strategy is, just keep in mind that it’s all about moving forward together — as a family, as a team.

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