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Family business must embrace communication for survival

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Chances for a family business to be successful over the long haul are very slim. Statistics consistently show only 33% of all family businesses will survive to the second generation and a meager 17% will make it to the third generation. Fighting against those odds and the ever-increasing competitive business market make it essential for families to identify key strategies for success.

Communication skills must be near the top of the list. Successful businesses at their very core know how to generate great ideas and products and then bring them to market. Human communication is the central network for brainstorming ideas, collaborating on solutions and communicating to the entire team.

Unfortunately many business families fall prey to poor communication skills that have developed over several generations. Families learn to avoid conflict and giving difficult feedback as a means of creating harmony within the family. This pattern of under communicating can be a business killer and a family time bomb that can cause family fractures that last for generations.

Successful family businesses realize communication skills are essential for all family members to be strong business professionals and work with the non-family employees and partners in the business.

Communication skill building can be a bit awkward at first but like any other skill can be practiced, developed and honed over time. Often times the family benefits tremendously from outside professionals who can provide objective feedback, having not grown up in the family system.

Families can focus on communicating in the following areas: providing each other performance feedback, creating a business vision with short and long-range goals, and learning to master conflict resolution skills.

Becoming proficient in many of these fundamental business skills can make all the difference not only in the business’s long term success but in the family’s immediate and long-term harmony. Every family business should pick one new communication skill to develop monthly and stay committed to practicing it for their very survival!

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