Dr. John Gorecki, MD, is a busy medical professional. With responsibility for a private surgical clinic in Buford, Georgia, and admitting privileges at Northeast Georgia Health System – Gainesville, among other regional medical centers, he has precious little time for himself. When he is not at the office, preparing journal work or traveling to professional conferences, he makes the most of his time with his family.
But John Gorecki MD is not the only member of his household with a full-time job. His beloved wife runs a successful business in which he plays an advisory role. The experience of keeping a business quite literally “in the family” has prompted a fair bit of reflection for the doctor, who is only too happy to share his insights and experiences with others in comparable situations. What follows is a look at the pros and cons of owning a family business, influenced by John Gorecki’s experience.
Pro: Flexible Schedules
Families tend to be a bit more low key about employees’ comings and goings, making for more flexible schedules among employees with competing priorities (such as kids).
Pro: Loyalty to the Business
In an increasingly mobile workforce, loyalty is more highly valued than ever before. As such, “family loyalty” can make the difference between retaining a talented and ambitious employee and losing him or her to a perceived competitive offer. Continuity at the management level is a bonus for prospective clients, too. John Gorecki MD and his wife, both loyal to a fault, have learned, and benefited from, this lesson many times over.
Con: Potential for Uneven Performance
Running a family business is not always smooth. When a family member doesn’t perform as expected, it can be difficult or awkward to discipline or even terminate them. In many cases, family businesses slog on for years without proper guidance due to stakeholders’ reticence to address such issues head-on.
While Dr. John Gorecki MD and his wife don’t have these problems, they are anecdotally aware of family business owners who do suffer from these issues. For family members who worry about conflicts developing own the line, it is highly recommended to “clear the air” prior to bringing new members on board or welcoming new partners into the fold.
Con: Rivalries Bubbling to the Surface
If those responsible for managing the business are not careful, dormant family rivalries can easily bubble to the surface in the boardroom, on the shop floor, or anywhere else (including in the family home). As such, it is important for those tasked with managing the business to keep competing interests in check and ensure that everyone feels as if they are treated fairly.
Con: Succession Planning
Another potential challenge to successfully running a family business: a lack of suitable successors within the family, or a lack of succession planning altogether. It is absolutely critical for closely held family businesses to have a viable succession plan or exit strategy in place, whether it involves handing the business off to a capable heir from the next generation, selling the business to an outside entity, or shuttering the business altogether.
Would you ever run a family business?