Many an entrepreneur has started a small business with the early intention of just feeding their family. They may have a service or product that they believe in and feel they can improve on and out perform their competition.
For lack of a better name, or in some cases to nourish their ego, these well intended industrialists decide to name the business after themselves; Smiths’ Grocery Store, Jones’ Pharmacy and so on. This is the point where I believe most new entrepreneurs go wrong. At that moment they have not only started a company but a family brand and the foundation for the reputation of their heirs. As soon as they put their name on the door, they have without thought, just given birth to a family business.
Whether your business stays small or has the vision and good fortune to turn into an internationally recognized brand; the ability to separate it from family, if your name is on the door, is next to impossible. Your children, their children and their children’s children will step into reputations that precede them. Reputations lead to expectations. In many cases both will be impossible to live up to.
On the other side of the namesake coin hides the open door policy. Anyone who comes from a well known family business will understand how the simple fact that you carry that name can grant you access to otherwise closed environments. From the outside this can be seen as nothing but an advantage but once behind the exclusive walls the gremlins of low self esteem are revealed. When opportunity is too easy, one will always question if it is deserved and if it could have been accomplished independently.
Those next in line, who don’t care about their independence, need be aware of the slippery slope into the land of entitlement. Here the characteristics of posturing, arrogance and snobbery are bred, coupled with deep rooted insecurity. Reputation killers for sure. Not to mention the seeds that foster the destruction of your forefather’s kingdom.
All of this is not to say that family businesses can’t thrive and continue on for many generations. I do believe they can. I am suggesting that without being aware of the ramifications caused by putting your name on the door, you are lessening your chances tenfold. Growth of a family business cannot come without growth of a family.
Build a business and see if your family rises to meet it. Not because they bear the name but because they desire to participate and have worked hard to deserve the chance, thus creating their own reputation.
What name is on your company’s door and what effect is it having on your family?
Caird Urquhart is Founder and President of Newroad Coaching, a boutique coaching firm providing one-on-one personal and business coaching services and author of 30 Ways To Better Days: How to Rally After You’ve Been Dumped. Find Newroad Coaching on their blog and on Twitter and YouTube.