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Family Ties

Even if you don't run a family business, there's something to be learned from them.

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This story appears in the July 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It's a great time to be part of a family business. While other businesses struggled with the difficult economy, family business revenues grew by 50 percent from 1997 to 2002, according to a study released by the Raymond Institute of Family Business and the Mass Mutual Financial Group. What's more, 50 percent of family businesses responding to the study plan to hire new staff in the next year, while 60 percent are "very optimistic" about their companies' futures.

How can nonfamily businesses emulate these successes? "Family businesses are committed to keeping the company going," says Carol Wittmeyer, president of the Raymond Family Business Institute, a nonprofit foundation in Alfred, New York, dedicated to promoting and serving family businesses. "That type of passion is part of the reason [for their success]." Family businesses are in it for the long haul-most have weathered economic storms in the past and, as such, are cash-oriented and very liquid. "Through the bad times, they've got a cushion, and through the good times, they're able to grow," says Wittmeyer.

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