You've finally made the decision to venture overseas. Now that you're starting to forge alliances with international partners, should you seek out family businesses such as your own? In most cases, the answer is yes.
Working with family businesses abroad is comparatively easy for family businesses in the United States. After all, well-run family businesses, no matter where in the world they're located, share many of the same characteristics. They have their family name on the door, their integrity is high, and they stake their personal reputation on their products or services. Family businesses worldwide take pride in their close relationships with customers. The CEOs and high-level executives in family businesses are generally also owners--which usually means they're easily accessible and stay in their positions for quite a while. Such stability helps these companies make solid decisions that lead to long-term success instead of being lured by short-term profits.
Family businesses often have one more major trait in common: their children, who also happen to be their successors, says Fran Thaw, founder and owner of Bulbtronics Inc., a 22-year-old Farmingdale, New York, specialty lighting company. Thaw, whose company buys bulbs from and sells bulbs to many companies in different countries, has a close personal relationship with the head of a family-owned business in England. When visiting the other's country, the business owners often stay at each other's homes. "We even had their son here for a couple of weeks teaching him what he needed to know to expand their business into medical lighting," Thaw says. Why all this closeness? "We have so much in common--family and business."
Patricia Schiff Estess writes family business histories and is the author of two books, Managing Alternative Work Arrangements (Crisp Publishing) and Money Advice for Your Successful Remarriage (Betterway Press).