How to Run a Successful Family Business
I walk into a room, any room, and immediately look down. No, I’m not shy or afraid to engage in conversation. There’s a reason why my eyes travel south. It’s the power of shoes.
That may sound odd, but I grew up in a family who made their livelihood from footwear. Together my grandfather and my parents founded their shoe company in 1951. Today my brother, sister, and I run our business along with my nephew. Shoes are literally part of our bloodline. Four generations of owning and operating a family shoe company have made me who I am today: a true footwear fanatic.
If this were a game show like Name That Tune, then with just a glimpse I could name a shoe’s specific brand, size, and year it was manufactured in 15 seconds or less. I could even spot if the shoe fit the person wearing it correctly or if a blister would surely make an appearance later in the evening. Extreme, maybe, but it’s all part of the passion I feel when I see fine footwear.
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How to run a family business: break bread and barriers
Families who work and play together are an interesting bunch. Our meals can start with a salad and evolve into a business brainstorming session. While sometimes we agree to disagree, overall we share a common mission to maintain—and grow—what our family began seven decades ago. Here’s how we accomplish this goal:
- Know your brand
My family has never deviated from our brand promise to put customer service on a pedestal alongside quality products. We know who we are, and so do our customers. Our products and personalized service translate into loyal, satisfied customers who spread the word about their overall positive experience.
- Tell your story
Communicate your journey—both internally (with staff) and externally (with customers and vendors)—and what you represent across all avenues. Speak, and speak often, with your staff via email, meetings, texts, and in-person exchanges. Connect often with your customers and vendors through newsletters, social media, emails, and one-on-one interactions. The more touches you make, the more engagement you cultivate in order to tell your tale about why you are who you are.