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Joe Szynkowski: How to run a happy family business
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Joe Szynkowski: How to run a happy family business

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We’ve all seen the stats on family businesses.

Only a mere 30% of them endure into a second generation, 12% last into a third generation, and just 3% make it to the fourth generation, according to the Conway Center for Family Business.

Given the challenges facing business owners in “regular” situations, it only makes sense that adding a family dynamic could make things even more complicated.

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Before we paint a positive picture of how you can run a successful and happy family business — because you know that’s what we do here — let’s take a look at some of the common pain points causing these sobering statistics, according to the Small Business Administration.

• Setting up compensation and benefits.

• Separating business from pleasure.

• Dealing with generational problems.

• Separating business from pleasure.

• Structuring succession planning.

The positive side of things

There are many benefits to running a family business. Spending time with the people you love the most can be a true reward.

If you read our WorkHappy Spotlights, you’ll find plenty of local people making it happen as professionals — as well as family members.

Ryan Patton’s family business, Howell Insurance, has been serving the community since 1925. There’s a positive number for you!

When asked what he loves about running a family business, he answered, “We are a small business so we all work together which is definitely a different relationship than most husbands and wives and parents and children have. We are all grateful for it, though, and really do view it as a blessing.”

Kip Polley, featured just last week, had similar sentiments to share about running his small business with his wife, Ashley. What’s the favorite part about his job running an amusements attraction company?

“My wife works with me. That’s always been my favorite part of this. Since we had our daughter, she has stepped back from a lot of the operations, but I still really cherish all the time we got to spend together building this company.”

Action steps

So how do you keep the happiness in your family business?

Walden University offers these 8 tips:

• Communicate

• Evolve

• Set boundaries

• Practice good governance

• Recruit from the outside

• Treat employees like family

• Make it optional

• Plan for the future

Family businesses stand at the center of the global economy, as well as our local region. Don’t believe us? The Family Capital 750 is an annual ranking of the top family businesses in the world in terms of revenue. Walmart, Inc., Volkswagen, Berkshire Hathaway, Ford Motor Company, ALDI, and Dell Technologies all made the list.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Your family can make the list, too.

Joe Szynkowski is a Sr. Director for NuVinAir Global, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. Thanks to technology, he does so happily from his home east of Marion. Check out for his WorkHappy Spotlights or email for more guidance on finding career joy.


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