In a family business, one or more members within the management team are drawn from the owning family. Family businesses can have owners who are not family members. Family businesses may also be managed by individuals who are not members of the family. However, family members are often involved in the operations of their family business in some capacity and, in smaller companies, usually one or more family members are the senior officers and managers. Many businesses that are now public companies were family businesses.
Family participation as managers and/or owners of a business can strengthen the company because family members are often loyal and dedicated to the family enterprise. However, family participation as managers and/or owners of a business can present unique problems because the dynamics of the family system and the dynamics of the business systems are often not in balance.
The interests of a family member may not be aligned with the interest of the business. For example, if a family member wants to be president but is not as competent as a non-family member, the personal interest of the family member and the well being of the business may be in conflict.
Or, the interests of the entire family may not be balanced with the interests of their business. For example, if a family needs its business to distribute funds for living expenses and retirement but the business requires those to stay competitive, the interests of the entire family and the business are not aligned.
Finally, the interest of one family member may not be aligned with another family member. For example, a family member who is an owner may want to sell the business to maximize their return, but a family member who is an owner and also a manager may want to keep the company because it represents their career and they want their children to have the opportunity to work in the business.