Family Business Matters: Thirty Years of Insights into the Real Source of Family Business Struggles, by Thomas Davidow, Ed.D, a national and international family business consultant for over thirty years, addresses the myriad challenges that family owned businesses face while striving to maximize their business success and maintain family harmony. According to Dr. Davidow, the real source of family business struggles is a family’s inability to recognize the overlap between their business issues and family issues, to distinguish between the two and to address them respectively.
Dr. Davidow describes dilemmas and offers solutions in seven different categories: family dynamics/relationships; inter-generational dynamics/succession; communication; advisors; values; mediation; and performance.
Within those seven chapters, he presents an extensive array of common problems, including sibling rivalry; the role of a spouse in the business; bringing in-laws into the business; the difficulty of letting go during the succession process and of training the next generation; the need to control one’s emotions and to learn effective communication techniques; the importance of choosing a good advisor; the dangers of “transference” and “counter-transference” between family members and professional advisors; the impact of bringing in an outside CEO; the importance of maintaining the family’s values and culture; how to assign fair compensation; the advantages of mediation over litigation in a family business; how to deal with an underperforming family member; the key ingredients for success; the importance of creating boundaries in the family business; and the advantage of the Interdisciplinary Method of consulting—professionals with different skills sets and experience, both clinical and financial, working together to sort out and solve family business problems.
Throughout his discussions, Dr. Davidow articulates the depth of emotions, feelings and struggles that accompany every family business, but which family members can't always articulate themselves. In the two and a half years that his “FamilyBiz Q&A” column has appeared in the online publication, Business Leader Post, his readers have reported that his articles are helpful, interesting and thought-provoking. One reader wanted to know if Dr. Davidow was hiding in the closet during his family business meetings, eavesdropping on the interactions between him and other family members. Another reader asked in response to a column about anger, “Who in my family have you been speaking to?” Consequently, he has decided to share his thoughts with a wider audience and to make his observations, suggestions and advice available to families and to people with whom he has not worked. Here then is a collection of his thoughts compiled into a highly engaging, practical guide for members of family businesses as well as their professional advisors.