Today’s article is provided by: Paul Andrews, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Family Business United.
The USA’s family businesses come in all sizes, from all sectors and from all over the country. Many of these firms have been in existence for hundreds of years, passing from generation to generation, with their longevity the result of good governance, innovative family ownership and a focus on the long term that has resulted in them becoming the bedrock of communities across the USA. Others may be younger in age, but share similar values and are building forward-looking family firms of the future.
Studies in the past decade have shown that around one third of Fortune 500 firms are family controlled and that family businesses in the USA account for around 65% of US GDP, over 60% of US employment and comprise more than 80% of all business enterprises in North America. It is also recognised that the greatest part of America’s wealth is held within family businesses and that the family business sector is therefore a force to be reckoned with.
Family firms across the USA today are a far cry from the ‘ma and pa’ image of small lifestyle businesses that are often portrayed in the media – they are big employers, create wealth for their employees (many of whom have had generations of the same family working in the business) and invest significantly in the communities in which they operate.
The contribution made by the family business sector in the US is significant and deserves to be recognised. American Family Business Day 2017 is a nationwide campaign to put the family business sector on the map, organised by Family Business United, the award-winning magazine and resource centre for the global family business community that was founded by Paul Andrews. American Family Business Day 2017 seeks to put the family business sector on the map, recognise the diversity of the sector and provide an opportunity to celebrate all things family business.
Family firms have to deal with specific issues associated with their family ownership and it is the relationship dynamics that make them special, and of course, can create unique tensions that are not found in their non-family counterparts. Family businesses that recognise these challenges, develop good governance procedures and focus on the sustainability of the business for the long term, innovating as necessary to keep the business relevant, have the greatest chances of remaining for generations to come.
Successful family firms focus on the business and take a long term view, and with a significant number of family business owners looking to retire in the next decade, succession planning and the development of the next generation of family business leaders remains a key item on the family business agenda. American Family Business Day 2017 is a chance to share best practice, identify the resources available and to provide assistance to family businesses across the USA on the next stage of their journey, as well as championing the cause and recognising the contribution that these businesses make. Family firms are the backbone of the US economy and we hope they remain so for generations to come.