The secrets of successful family business

Successful family businesses are a rare breed, the number constantly dropping as owners are tempted to either split up the business, sell out or close down.

But despite the odds, some do manage to make their business prosper and keep it in the family. spoke to several US family businesses to distill these markers of success:

  • They make and sell products that last: Partly this just reflects the long history of many family businesses, but it also points to an intrinsic strength – long lasting products tend to be high value, low volume goods.
  • They continue to manufacture at home: The businesses spoke to all continued to have their core manufacturing operation in the US. Geographic and family ties often come in a package – once a business’s operations move, the logic for keeping it in the family becomes harder to maintain.
  • They avoid competing on cost: And because they tend to keep manufacturing in their country of origin, competing on cost isn’t an option. Instead, family businesses tend to succeed best when they sell on quality and uniqueness.
  • They make the hard decisions: Most of the businesses spoke to have taken hard decisions to downsize and cut costs. It can be hard for a family business to cut its workforce by 50%, but the alternative is dying a slow death.


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