Business As A Family TraditionWednesday, November 12, 2014 - Press Release
We’ve all heard the old saying: family and business don’t mix. But what may not be as well known is that the saying’s popularity is hardly synonymous with its truth. The reality is that the unique structure of the family business gives it a long-term orientation and core values that traditional public firms often lack.
I got my first real post-babysitting job at my family's business: my mom owned a dance studio for ten years. I learned responsibility, patience, punctuality, and people skills. I watched my mom maneuver delicate situations, determine lesson prices and negotiate the cost of rent. I helped her organize the annual recital and sorted and labeled costumes for delivery. I watched her manage our house and her business and never questioned my own ability to one day do the same. It was the gift of a small business owner parent to a child who knows nothing different.
Fortunately, I am not alone in knowing the value found working beside family. Many of our great Wisconsin businesses are family-owned and operated. And all challenges aside, there is a lot to be said about the advantages of a family-owned business.
To many, the phrase “family business” connotes a friendlier company with more loyal, caring, and socially responsible employees. But it is more than just an opinion or perception—it is a reality based on the fact that a family business has access to distinctive ingredients that can provide a lasting competitive advantage. Despite that old saying, family-owned businesses are the backbone of our economy. And the proof is in the pudding: more than 90% of all U.S. firms are family-owned and they employ 62% of the United States workforce. In fact, family businesses are currently responsible for 78% of all new jobs created.
And in Wisconsin, we love our family-owned businesses. Many of these businesses are active in their local communities. Wisconsin communities benefit from both the family members as supporters and from the family business through financial support and employment opportunities. This commitment to the community tends to permeate the generations and provides both family members and employees with the opportunity and rewards that stem from this ongoing community engagement.
That’s why I’m excited to hold a roundtable listening session today at the Wisconsin Family Business Forum in Appleton. Run through the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the WFBF exists for the sole purpose of fostering healthy family business partnerships. But it is much more than just another committee of business leaders. The Forum functions as a community where members come to share their values, experiences, and commitment to family-run businesses. Members collaborate and explore the challenges and rewards of family enterprise while growing their knowledge, skills, and networks.
Through innovative programs like this, family businesses in Wisconsin will continue to thrive allowing business members the opportunity to teach and pass along their business and personal values to the next generation of family and non-family employees.