Family businesses

There are particular benefits and challenges in running a family business. On the plus side there should be total trust and the joy of working together to achieve for your family, on the negative side it can be difficult to keep the business in the office – it can be ever present and if things go wrong it can split the family and put it at financial risk.

Family businesses have always been an important part of the UK commercial landscape e.g. Sainsburys, Timpsons and the Fortes. And many of the most famous and successful businesses in the U.S. are family-owned, Wal-Mart, Ford Motor and Trump, for example. When the powerful 89-year-old L'Oréal matriarch Liliane Bettencourt, France's richest woman, made way for a new generation, her 25-year-old grandson, Jean-Victor Meyer, was put on the board along with his parents - affirming the family's commitment to the company.

The cosmetics giant is but one of a number of major companies around the world that are still controlled by the founding families.

Two thirds of small businesses in Britain are run by families but a lack of succession planning means only a fifth ever hand on the baton, according to the Institute for Family Business. The sad truth is that 80% of first-generation companies never make it to the second generation, and only one in ten make it to the third. This is partly because founders often can't let go. The institute says one US entrepreneur only gave his 68-year-old son the power to sign cheques when he reached 92 - because his hands were too shaky. The move from one generation to the next is often challenging and we frequently work with family businesses to help them make it less painful.

With the growth of entrepreneurship this has become even more prevalent with many husbands and wives working together, including us. Living and working together couples have particular challenges especially if they are working from home. Here is an example of how we worked with one couple. The boundaries between work and relationship can become blurred and strained. Our coaching builds on our own experience of working together for over 17 years.