Written By Charlotte DiBartolomeo, CEO of Red Kite Project
Here’s a staggering statistic: From the two-person entity, to the fortune 500 company, 90% of all businesses in the U.S. are family run.
In spite of those numbers, I confess, when Red Kite Project was a new start up, we were a bit shy about telling clients we were a family business. Our fear of not being taken seriously because our partnership was tied first through blood and loyalty before legal documents of incorporation compelled us to silence. Our mantra? Let the client get to know our work ethic and expertise before we reveal the truth of our family bonds. And who could blame us? The concept of the “mom and pop operation” denotes a folksy image of a small time outfit, lacking innovation and struggling on a wing and a prayer. It wasn’t the image we wanted to project and it wasn’t the image we deserved.
|Becoming a “petty dictator”can be easy if you are leading your family.
It’s harder to lead with compassion and strong strategy that fits your business culture.
While we are a family, we aren’t “Mom and Pop.” We’re a group of men and women connected by blood, marriage, love and loyalty and a clear mission, driven by innovation and integrity to empower people and organizations to rise above and become their best selves. We fight hard for our shared values and for one another. That loyalty, that work ethic, those values, it’s all the glue that holds us together when the pressure is so great it takes ones breath away.
|Family business doesn’t just contain blood relatives.
Strong clan based culture breeds feelings of family and loyalty among new hires!
Loyalty is a commodity created through mutual respect. Not all families, or businesses, or family businesses generate loyalty. I’ve witnessed my share of disloyal, unethical, disrespectful treatment between blood relatives and business colleagues. To be sure, in highly functioning businesses just as in highly functioning families the level of compassionate support must be equal to the level of accountability if we’re to achieve our mission. Healthy families know that, and sustainable businesses act on it. In family and business, compassionate support with clear consequences builds our resiliency. In the last seven years, our family business has grown to include several non-family members. We strive to build loyalty by respecting their opinions, even the dissenting ones, valuing their work and nurturing their dreams. We can’t expect them to be engaged if we don’t.
|Sibling rivalry must be kept in check or it can destroy a family business legacy, or poison the culture.
Think your non-family member employees can’t sense it? You’re wrong.
I’m no longer shy about telling clients I’m part of a family business because I know first hand the enormous upside to the family business, or the business that behaves like a supportive, loyal family. When we care for one another, and we hold each other accountable, the outcome is resilient team members committed to accomplishing quality work. And that’s a bottom line we can all be proud of.
|You can’t assume that everyone is involved with the business for positive reasons.
Regular check-in’s are helpful.
Three Elemental Tips to Incorporate when Managing Your Company
1. Loyalty is the glue that holds businesses together.
2. Loyalty is achieved by building a culture of mutual respect.
3. Equal measures of compassionate support and accountability raise productivity.