Archive for February, 1999

Succession in the Family Business

Posted: February 22, 1999 by Chuck Matthews in Operations, People, Planning

Classic Cincinnati Post column from 1999

When it comes to your accumulated life possessions, the title of 1930’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman captures the ultimate outcome of our physical assets – “You Can’t Take it With You.”  While the same is true if you own a family business, if you don’t plan ahead, there is a good chance you might not to leave it behind either – at least to the person or persons of your choosing.

Family owned businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy.  A survey I conducted of 130 midwestern firms suggests that 80 to 90 percent of all firms are family owned. More impressively, family firms are estimated to contribute between 50 and 60 percent of the GDP, employ over 35 million people, and comprise nearly one-third of the Fortune 500.

Research suggests that only about three out of ten family firms survive into the next generation.  On average, the life expectancy has been estimated to be about 24 years – or about the average tenure of the founders.


The Importance of Professionalism

Posted: February 15, 1999 by Sutton Landry in Marketing, Operations, Planning, Startup

Classic Cincinnati Post column from 1999

In the era before personal computers, when the typewriter was the “word processing” tool of choice, there was a saying that reflected the prevailing behaviors and attitudes in the corporate business world, “No one was ever fired for buying IBM.”  In short, no one was ever fired for buying brand name products or services with a universal reputation for quality.  As I learned during the past two years while conducting interviews of large employers in the region for a task force of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, that same attitude still prevails today.  Purchasing managers value the assurance of brand name quality and are reluctant to try Brand X, the typical small business.

So how can the small business owner compete in such an environment?  How can s/he hope to make a sale to a large organization?  The answer is by being professional, even more professional than the brand name competitors.