1. You haven’t made a clear succession plan for passing the company from one generation to the next.

    2. You saddle the new generation with old debts and outdated ways of doing business.

    3. You treat the arriving generation like an indentured slave rather than a welcome member of the team.

    4. You treat them too well and give them a free pass on conforming to company standards (assuming you have them) and you let them slide on being accountable. It’s demoralizing to all the other staff whether they’re family members or not.

    5. You have no real training other than what you think is training, which is criticizing them for whatever they say and do until they choose to wait and do nothing rather than risk your wrath.


  • Create the 10 Commandments of Family Business. These are the Golden Rules you all agree to abide by.
      Note: If you want a copy of mine I use with customers, please e-mail me at al@appleseedbusiness.com and I’ll be glad to send it along.
  • Create an Organizational Chart with all the boxes it takes to run your company. We’re not talking about fancy titles like President, Vice President and such. We’re talking about positions like Service Manager, Marketing Manager and Financial Manager to name just a few.
      Note:  It doesn’t matter if there is no one at work besides you. You  must have all the boxes filled out and your name in every box. This way as you grow and people (especially family members) come on board, there is a clear place they’re at today and a clear path on where they can go tomorrow.
  • Respect the Chain of Command amongst family members.

  • Create a Buy-Sell agreement and cover at least the 4Ds which are death, divorce, disability and disabled.

  • Meet formally at least once a week some place where you won’t be overheard and get on the same page philosophically so you don’t present a mixed message to your other staff.

    These are just the basics, but they’ll go a long way to building a family business that’s worthy of your blood, sweat and tears.


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