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Secrets to family business survival

Francis Muli @PeopleDailyKE

Family businesses are steeped in tradition and pride. Locally, the Indian community has been known for business and this is not expected to change any time soon.

They have cultivated a culture of hereditary business, where the family business is religiously passed from generation to generation. Somali community has recently followed the trend and are thriving in business in major cities and towns in the country. A few other Kenyans have also followed the trend.

However, few businesses continue operation after the exit of the pioneer. In order to make sure that family business thrives even in your absence, it is important to observe the following.

1. Set rules

Having family members around your business does not mean you are safe. In fact, they are the most dangerous people around any business entity. Setting rules will make sure the business runs in a formal way. In addition to the rules, there should be consequences of breaking them, otherwise they will be useless.

Rules help establish expectations, relationships and provide guidelines within which to conduct daily business activities. They also regulate compliance with local, state and federal agencies that govern your particular type of business operation.

2. Train family members

The most successful family businesses are run by members who have been trained since inception. They hold the innermost secrets that can never be let out to outsiders, no matter what.

Training also instils discipline to the people handling the business. If you have children, it is good to incorporate them into the family business immediately they leave school, so that they can get the skills to run the business in your absence.

3. Keep family matters out of business

Whenever handling family matters, some people tend to include business issues therein. The two entities should be handled separately to foster growth and retain family ties at the same time. That is why as earlier stated, the business should run on a set of rules to avoid crushing it for conflict of interest.

4. Pay employees

Some business owners tend not to pay family members working in the business. It is wrong. Blood ties cannot pay bills, neither can they compensate on what they do. They may offer pro bono services for some time, but at long last they will leave, no matter who they are to you. Even children will leave.

This means at the time of transition when you can no longer run the business there will be no one to hand over to. Those you could have handed over to will be working somewhere else, and maybe not ready to come back. This is how family businesses die.

5. Develop succession plan 

It is always good to prepare for the worst to achieve the best, and this could include your demise. Without succession plans and will, family members will be left in wrangles, and where wrangles exist success sublimes. The plan should spell out the details of how and when the mantle will be passed to a younger generation.

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