HBR: Josh Baron & Rob Lachenauer, Build a Family Business That Lasts (Feb. 2021)

Josh Baron & Rob Lachenauer have published their Harvard Business Review article, Build a Family Business That Lasts (Feb. 2021). The article begins as follows:

Given their portrayals in the media, it might be easy to dismiss family businesses as hotbeds of power playing, favor currying, and back-stabbing—preoccupations that can hurt the company, the family, or both. Think of the Murdochs and NewsCorp, or the Redstones and National Amusements, to name just two. But despite the headline-grabbing tales, many family businesses have enjoyed success for decades, even centuries. For instance, the Italian winemaker Marchesi Antinori, established in 1385, has thrived as a family business for more than 600 years. Similar examples can be found across the globe just within the alcohol business; they include Gekkeikan in Japan (founded in 1637), Berry Bros & Rudd in the United Kingdom (1698), and Jose Cuervo in Mexico (1795).

So which is it? Are family businesses prone to dramatic implosions, or are they some of the most enduring companies in existence? The answer is both. They can be much more fragile or much more resilient than their peers. Given that family businesses—companies in which two or more family members exercise control, concurrently or sequentially—represent an estimated 85% of the world’s companies, ensuring their longevity is essential. The United States alone has 5.5 million of these businesses, which employ 62% of the workforce, according to the research and advocacy group Family Enterprise USA.

To explain the difference between those two fates, we’ll delve into an area rarely explored in business schools or the media: the impact of ownership on a company’s long-term success. Ownership of any asset confers the power to fundamentally shape it. Think of a professional sports team. Within the rules of the league, the owner has the right to make essentially every important decision, including whether to fire the coach, which players are on the roster, where the team plays, whether the franchise seeks to maximize wins or profits, and whether and when to sell it. The teams with the best track records have great owners at the helm. If your favorite team has an ineffective owner, you are probably doomed to disappointment.

To see full article, click: Build a Family Business That Lasts

Posted by Lewis J. Saret, Co-General Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal.

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