Helping the Family Business Grow

Family Business

Running a family business is very unique and offers its own obstacles most other types of businesses don't face. For instance, sibling rivalry is a perennial problem in most family businesses, while many nonfamily businesses have policies against family members working together. So with all the intricacies that come with family-owned businesses, here's a list of resources that will help keep your business one big, happy family.

  • The Aspen Family Business Gathering. The Aspen Family Business Group is hosting an informal conference for family businesses August 4-7, 2005, in Fort Worth, Texas. The conference will offer workshops, a keynote and working dinners to discuss topics such as what roles family members play in the family business. Registration is $800 for the first two family members and $650 for each additional family member.
  • "Challenges in Managing a Family Business" by the SBA. As the name in the title above describes, the SBA has put together a free 14-page article touching on many of the common issues that arise while managing a family business, including: sticking to your goals, dealing with in-laws seeking employment, handling personnel problems and establishing a line of succession.
  • "Choosing Consultants for Your Family Business." With all the family business consultants out there, it might be difficult to figure out who is the appropriate one for your business. Purdue University offers a short article that gives a few basic tips to help ease the process of selecting a consultant. Other family business articles are also available on the site.
  • Northeastern University's Center for Family Business hosts this helpful site, which answers just about any family business question you may have. offers a great search feature that covers everything from sibling rivalry to family business trends. The resource content is searchable by keyword or topic, and the site also offers a free service that alert subscribers when important family business news or features are offered on the site.
  • Family Business. What would the world of niche publications be without a magazine dedicated specifically to family businesses? Family Business magazine's content includes interesting lists such as "The World's Oldest Family Companies" and "America's 150 Largest Family Companies," as well as articles that are unique to family businesses, such as married couples sharing their business and personal success stories. Annual subscriptions start at $79.
  • The Family Business Advisor. The Family Business Advisor is a monthly newsletter that helps families keep their businesses running smoothly. Some questions the newsletter has answered include: How can you buy out your relatives without losing control of the business? How do you maintain trust and harmony? And how do you make financial plans that increase your family's wealth? An annual subscription is $195.
  • Family Enterprise Institute. This membership organization is dedicated to supporting the growth and management of family businesses. Members receive expert techniques and tips, advisory help exploring the issues facing the business and more. Annual membership fee is $125, which includes the Institute's quarterly newsletter and magazine.
  • The Family Firm Institute. If you need a qualified consultant or expert, The Family Firm Institute is an international organization of networked professionals that might be what you're looking for. The site offers a searchable directory ranging in subjects from accounting to liquidity options. The site also includes downloadable PDFs stuffed with facts and figures, and it links to the scholarly journal Family Business Review, offering manuscripts starting at $25.
  • Genus Resources. This site offers a wide array of free articles targeted at family businesses. The in-depth articles are sorted into over 20 categories ranging from family business education to core values.
  • "Women in Family-Owned Businesses" by I. Elaine Allen, PhD and Nan S. Langowitz DBA. This article (in PDF format) was published in August 2003 by Babson College and MassMutual Financial Group; however, the information is still relevant. The article is filled with great statistics and interesting information, such as characteristics or lessons learned from female-owned family businesses. --Steve Cooper

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Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog,

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This article was originally published in the March 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: It's All Relative.

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