OUR VIEWS: Cautionary tale on family business

Nov 5, 2012


It’s extremely sad that what undoubtedly started as an exciting business opportunity for a family resulted in something as horrific as a murder-suicide, leaving the rest of family with many questions and filled with grief.

Family-owned businesses are a large part of not only our community, but our country as a whole. According to businessbewareshow.com, a website that compiles statistics and provides advice about family-owned businesses:

• Family businesses generate 60 percent of the country’s employment and 78 percent of all new job creation.

• The average lifespan of a family-owned business is 24 years.

• Thirty-five percent of Fortune 500 companies are family companies.

• Family businesses comprise 80-90 percent of all business enterprises in North America.

• Only 40 percent of family-owned businesses survive to a second generation, 12 percent to a third generation and 3 percent to a fourth generation.

Being in business is hard work. Managing family relationships is hard work, too. And combining the two is not for everyone.

Making the tough decisions that every business must make only becomes more challenging when it involves other family members. Options that make sense emotionally don’t always make sense economically, and vice versa.

As we offer our condolences to the family, we applaud them for their efforts with pursuing a family business — the backbone of our country’s economic engine.

At the same time, we would offer a word of caution to those who run family businesses. We know it’s not easy, but do your best to find ways to keep business decisions and family time separate — for the sake of all involved.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


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