Family business

Photo (CC) by Dana, on Flickr

Did you know that:

  • You will find a family business in one out of every 10 households.
  • Family businesses contributed over $10 trillion, by one estimate, into our U.S. economy.
  • Family businesses generate over 50% of U. S. business revenue.
  • Family businesses employ over 50% of the U.S. workforce.

Do you get a sense of my topic this week? Yes, it’s the role and contributions of family businesses to the economy.

Family businesses are found in all segments of the economy, from large (Walmart) to micro in size (one person working in a corner desk after they have worked in another job all day and handled their family responsibilities). And you will find them in every segment of the economy, but dominating in farming and retail.

The family business is a unique entity as it combines the traditional business system along with the family system. And all of this while being a part of the larger community system.

With these connections, family businesses can, and do, have the ability to use the resources and time of family members in helping to get work done. This enables them to get more done when the pressure is one.

They also have been found to be more successful when the community is supportive of the business.

Strong family businesses and strong communities occur when the intermingling and exchange of resources is a two-way street. Family business provide community resources. It may begin with a paycheck to community members but it often reaches far beyond.

The most common community support provided by family businesses includes direct and indirect financial support to events, charities and even the paying of taxes. In communities that are struggling, the amount of this support often grows.

Next, there is the involvement in community leadership,  roles that various family members take on.

Technical assistance is another form of support offered by family businesses to communities.

I have had the good fortune to work on the Family Business Research group for some time.  Given the prevalence and importance of family businesses in rural communities, we wanted to dig deeper into who these businesses were and how they worked internally as well as interacted with the community.

Recently the group has released a 20-year highlight newsletter. You can find it at: You can also find a list of the over 400 publications produced by the group as well as a link to the group’s annual and project reports.

According to Heck and Stafford (1999), two members of the research group, the importance of family businesses to our economy and society is only exceeded by the family unit itself. They are a vital economic engine. Their support will help everyone grow.

If you operate a family business, thanks and good luck.  If you know a family business owner, stop in, say hello and check out their offerings.