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Setting the record straight about family business

Welcome to the first edition of Families in Business. This is the first international magazine dedicated to the special interests of business owning families.

These days, Europe can be divided into two groups: the people who understand the importance of family entrepreneurship to developed economies and their societies, and the people who don't. Those in the latter group still think that family businesses are small, insignificant and inefficient economic entities. They are influenced by the past stereotype of family businesses that took hold, spreading its roots into popular literature, business education and the media.

Of course, there is a grain of truth in every story. Everyone knows of a family business that thrived during the founder's regime, faltered under the leadership of the second generation, and then failed to return to its prime in succeeding generations. Buddenbrooks turned out to be a rod with which to beat every family business's back.

But what about the unsung heroes? The sins of the minority have been held against the majority for too long. The positive attributes of family ownership and family entrepreneurship can no longer be ignored for reasons of persistence and increasing visibility. A quick review of the themes we cover in this, the first, edition of Families in Business illustrates this point very well.

First, family businesses have decided to speak up for themselves and to insist on being listened to. Over recent years, the creation of national associations and a central lobbying group has successfully put pressure on governments to remove fiscal and developmental barriers to family business growth and sustainability. Secondly, the myth of the family business stereotype has been debunked by families who do not see making a profit and practising social entrepreneurship as mutually exclusive. On the contrary, a strong family, united in ownership and in their support of the board, presents a formidable or unmatchable competitive threat to non-family businesses.

Families in Business aims to set the record straight in relation to family enterprises.

Of course family businesses have to manage problems with emotional origins and commercial consequences from time to time. Some may struggle or fail, but most find a way to endure. In so doing, many become much stronger and fitter to face the challenges of the future.

Campden Publishing has joined forces with the Family Business Network (FBN) to bring an informed, leading edge magazine to business owning families throughout Europe. Joachim Schwass (Executive Director of FBN) joins me as Consultant Editor of the magazine to help provide articles and cases of families in business that present a realistic and informed view of entrepreneurial family business life. We invite your comments and feedback on the magazine, as well as any requests for topics you would like to see in future editions of Families in Business

Barbara Murray, fbn, schwass, Comment
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