Keep Your Business “UN-Professional”

I don’t know about you, but I am beginning to get tired of hearing how important it is to “professionalize our family businesses”. The implication here is that we are “un-professional”.

Granted, in some of our businesses, the family is over-bearing, and stifles growth and development. But, the vast majority of us are striking a good balance between being a family business, and adopting more formalized business practices. After all, this is our “sweet spot”. This is what makes us unique, and gives us a tremendous competitive advantage over non-family businesses.

I’m not advocating to avoid changing and growing our businesses to the next level. But, if we allow ourselves to adopt too many big corporate attributes, eventually we will lose our identity and competitive advantage of being a family business. Conversely, running our businesses too informally, might prevent us from attracting key management prospects, and lead to weak strategic planning.

The key here is balance. Manage your business with the best of both; maintain your identity of being a family business, while gradually allowing big company organization structure to creep in. Never forget the family values and entrepreneurial spirit that your business was founded on.

A Life Course Approach to the Entrepreneurial Family (Part I)

A Life Course Approach Cornell University
to the Entrepreneurial Family (Part I)

by Phyllis Moen
Cornell University


This paper describes the utility of applying a life course approach to analysis of theentrepreneurial family. A life course viewhighlights the dynamic processes of development and change over the life span,as well as the importance ofthe social contexts of families, businesses, and lives. Both the life course (Elder, 1992, 1995) and ecology of human development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Moen et al., 1995) paradigms underscore the social forces that shape employment–such as starting, stopping, or expanding a business–and their economic, social, and psychological consequences.

A life course perspective challenges traditional ways of investigating the interplay between work and family.For example, instead of considering snap-shots of family businesses at any one point in time, a life course approach focuses on pathways, considering roletransitions, trajectories, and turning points in lives–and family businesses–over time. The life course reflects the interweave ofwork, family, and community roletrajectories that change in conjunction with age,as well as with changing circumstances and options. Thus, an individual life can be characterized as a series of interrelated trajectories through both occupational and family “careers.”In fact, one useful way of depicting the life course is as a series of movements in and out of various roles (Elder, 1992, 1995). More…