• Why Are Women So Successful in the Family Business?
  • April 16, 2009 | Author: Patricia M. Annino
  • Law Firm: Prince Lobel Glovsky & Tye LLP - Boston Office
  • Women have a natural tendency to collaborate, communicate and connect.  While these traits may sometimes make women more vulnerable to those who favor a more combative, competitive environment, it is precisely those traits that also make women successful in the family business.

    In fact, women who learn to trust their instincts, balance work and family life, and who set up clear and manageable goals and boundaries, find their work in the family business gratifying and rewarding.  Working with family members means coping with the natural feelings and emotions of working with loved ones while also focusing on the needs and goals of the business.  While this situation can be fraught with anxiety and potential conflict, we offer the following recommendations to women and their families in business:

    • Don’t discuss the business with family members who are not working in the family business. Setting up ground rules is a key factor to success.
       
    • It is critical to make plans for the business when everyone is healthy and still around.  When one parent dies, the entire family decision-making process is gone.
       
    • It’s OK to negotiate for yourself.  Gaining strength to negotiate on financial matters can take years, but is intimately connected to the overall success of the business and women’s self-esteem.
    • Be an active contributor to strategic planning and bring in outside help for an independent perspective.
       
    • It can be difficult to navigate a parent’s feelings of loss and their emotional reactions to change when a succession plan starts to take shape.
       
    • Identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses and put family members in positions where they are best suited.  Problems occur when there are no clearly defined lines of duties.
       
    • Don’t compete with memories of your grandmother.  You don’t have to be all people at all times.  Let go of roles that are not right for you.
       
    • If you can learn to make decisions with your cousins and your siblings, you can make decisions with anyone, in any situation.
       
    • Coupling the family business with family philanthropy can be a way of continuing the family enterprise, involving other family members and augmenting the family’s business purposes and values.
       
    • The next generation should first experience life and work outside the family business.  This helps them decide what role might suit them best and gauge what is appropriate for business outside the family dynamic.