Family Business - The Good, the Great, and the Ugly
Updated: Sep 15
In today’s digital age, family businesses evoke a nostalgic sense of close-knit communities forging their destiny together, merging personal ties with professional pursuits. As my wife and I have learned over the years, family businesses are, indeed, a blend of the good, the great, and the ugly.
“The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege,” Charles Kuralt once said.
And our family business is testament to that. In our long hours of hard work, we have never felt alone. Our five incredible children, whom we have been blessed with, have been by our side throughout this journey and the creation and of many of our 18 companies.
According to the Conway Center for Family Business, family businesses account for 64% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), generate 62% of the country’s employment, and are responsible for 78% of all new job creation. The ‘good’ in family business thus extends beyond our immediate circle, contributing to the economic fabric of society.
Our family business model was not one simply dedicated to making profit, but to fostering learning. The annual road trips from Ottawa, Canada to Florida instilled in our children an inquisitive spirit and a sensibility for entrepreneurship. Those frequent pit stops at different rental locations were not just rest breaks, but brainstorming sessions where we dissected the operations of each business we visited to learn from their processes, branding and customer experience. We bonded over business talk and developed our communication skills and critical thinking abilities, as exhibited by the time we excitedly analyzed a Starbucks employee manual for hours on one of our trips.
The great part of family business, beyond the financial and professional benefits, is the unique amalgamation of individual talents, as is the case in our family. Each of our children brought a unique skillset and perspective to our businesses, establishing a robust ecosystem of creative problem-solving and trust that superseded any multi-dimensional brainstorming session in a typical corporate setup.
Interestingly, the Harvard Business Review stated that family businesses tend to outperform their non-family counterparts in times of economic turbulence. We attribute this to the deep-rooted resilience and adaptability within the family unit, which translates seamlessly into our professional endeavours.
In 2013, we suffered an immeasurable loss–that of our son. Around the same time, I stumbled upon a really ugly statistic that stated children have spent 95% of their life allotted time in a parents company by the time they move out and the number is likely worse for a busy entrepreneur. This highlighted for us that we did not want to be part of that statistic and that time spent together is invaluable and irreplaceable, so we created a life to change it, which means building different businesses and working together.
Family business is not a walk in the park but a journey marked not by smooth paths and staged smiles but by rising above failures, celebrating small victories, bonding over shared experiences, and learning from losses. Today, our family businesses represent a treasure trove of memories, experiences, dreams, and hard-won lessons that we would not change for anything.
Yes, it has not always been easy. But as with any rite of passage, the journey has provided us with something that’s priceless – an enduring spirit of unity, fostered by shared passion, enhanced by mutual support, and solidified by our resilience. Every up and down, every twist and turn, has led us to one conclusion: in the grand scheme of life, it’s definitely has been well worth it.