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Balancing the benefits and burdens of a family-owned business Working with family complicates the already daunting task of owning a business, and it’s tough not to take work problems home with you. The best approach is to realize that family is family . . . and business is business.  Business is Business: Reality Checks for Family-Owned Companies is a common-sense manual fo Balancing the benefits and burdens of a family-owned business Working with family complicates the already daunting task of owning a business, and it’s tough not to take work problems home with you. The best approach is to realize that family is family . . . and business is business.  Business is Business: Reality Checks for Family-Owned Companies is a common-sense manual for survival that dispels myths such as the power of teamwork and gender or birth-order differences in ability. Engagingly written, with no-nonsense tips and real-life examples, this defiant treatise will guide you to  • Harness your employees’—and your own—inherent strengths • Trust your instincts and the people you work with • Balance lifelong relationships with fair treatment of nonfamily employees Authors Kathy Kolbe and Amy Bruske hone decades of experience helping family businesses thrive—and running their own for more than 30 years—into practical, actionable advice for how to hire family members, how to work with them, and how—when necessary—to fire them.  The solutions are not always easy, but understanding the frequent pitfalls of working with family is an investment that could pay back over generations. Business is Business will show you how to find joy while developing a sustainable family-owned company.


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Balancing the benefits and burdens of a family-owned business Working with family complicates the already daunting task of owning a business, and it’s tough not to take work problems home with you. The best approach is to realize that family is family . . . and business is business.  Business is Business: Reality Checks for Family-Owned Companies is a common-sense manual fo Balancing the benefits and burdens of a family-owned business Working with family complicates the already daunting task of owning a business, and it’s tough not to take work problems home with you. The best approach is to realize that family is family . . . and business is business.  Business is Business: Reality Checks for Family-Owned Companies is a common-sense manual for survival that dispels myths such as the power of teamwork and gender or birth-order differences in ability. Engagingly written, with no-nonsense tips and real-life examples, this defiant treatise will guide you to  • Harness your employees’—and your own—inherent strengths • Trust your instincts and the people you work with • Balance lifelong relationships with fair treatment of nonfamily employees Authors Kathy Kolbe and Amy Bruske hone decades of experience helping family businesses thrive—and running their own for more than 30 years—into practical, actionable advice for how to hire family members, how to work with them, and how—when necessary—to fire them.  The solutions are not always easy, but understanding the frequent pitfalls of working with family is an investment that could pay back over generations. Business is Business will show you how to find joy while developing a sustainable family-owned company.

54 review for Business is Business: Reality Checks for Family-Owned Companies

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan Walker

    Great book for anyone wanting to create a family business. I loved all the ideas and examples the Author gives the reader.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    When I graduated from high school I started working for my maternal uncle’s construction company. He was the sole owner and when I started three of his brothers also worked there, along with two of my uncle’s brothers-in-law. In the next few years three other maternal uncles also worked there as well as my younger brother. A bit later, there were two son-in-laws added to the mix. The roles were that of common laborer up to the foreman on the job sites. With this background, it was easy to reco When I graduated from high school I started working for my maternal uncle’s construction company. He was the sole owner and when I started three of his brothers also worked there, along with two of my uncle’s brothers-in-law. In the next few years three other maternal uncles also worked there as well as my younger brother. A bit later, there were two son-in-laws added to the mix. The roles were that of common laborer up to the foreman on the job sites. With this background, it was easy to recognize most of the issues regarding Family Owned Businesses (FOBs) described in this book. People working on the job grew up together and were in positions of having to give and take instructions. There were times when it created difficulties that would not have been present if we had no personal relationships. Many of the operational issues covered in this book are identical to what occurs in other organizations that don’t have family members working together, people that seemed to be good fits to a position turn out not to be, for many different reasons. The next step is of course what to do about it, for it is difficult to let a family member go. Yet, like so many aspects of running a business, you cannot be successful if you are unwilling to make the hard, often unpleasant decisions. Two other issues that are covered in detail are the presence of non-family members in the company and the fact that many of the businesses were started by one or more of the family members. The appearance of favoritism in performance or pay for family members can be a cancer on an organization. Ways in which this can be prevented are examined. In many cases, the entrepreneur(s) that started the company have a completely different mindset regarding how they feel about it. They began doing whatever needed to be done with few to no silos of work and generally worked significant hours to get the company going. Later additions, even family members, generally do not have this mindset when working for the company. That problem is also addressed. Many start-up companies are owned and operated by family members and if not, often have other family members as investors. This is a powerful economic engine in every country, creating new jobs and opportunities that helps create dynamic growth. There are problems in these organizations that those without family members do not experience and this book helps you recognize and deal with those issues. Sometimes the solution is as simple as calling each other by your first names while working and other times it is the tough choice of letting a close family member go. One of the authors (Kolbe) provides a set of professional services as well as a set of indexes that can be used to measure various personal and organizational parameters. Those services are mentioned several times in the book. The mentions never rise to the level of sounding like a commercial.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    ~Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review~ Family owned businesses are often a neglected category of books. I think this is a useful book for someone working in a family owned business (whether a family member or a non-family member). Trigger Warning for below (view spoiler)[ However, in some cases the books gets to extreme. The book brings up a story about how someone stole their intellectual property and misused it and used the phrase "he's raped her" to describ ~Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review~ Family owned businesses are often a neglected category of books. I think this is a useful book for someone working in a family owned business (whether a family member or a non-family member). Trigger Warning for below (view spoiler)[ However, in some cases the books gets to extreme. The book brings up a story about how someone stole their intellectual property and misused it and used the phrase "he's raped her" to describe it. (hide spoiler)] While this book is useful in some places it is essentially an advertisement for their other services. Assessments are brought up in a glowing light as though they will provide you all the information you need to correctly place family members within the company. It doesn't feel like a balanced view of the actual usefulness of such assessments. Useful in some ways....less useful in others. I'd take this book with a grain of salt.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Wanda C

    This book offers many insights for anyone thinking about or currently running a Family owned business (FOB). Many ideas they present may seem simple, but when a family is elbow-deep in business, hiring non-family member employees, hiring family members (FM), matching FM's strengths to the FOB - well, it is invaluable. There were some topics I read about and thought, "Wow, I knew that, but I forgot it too!" If you are in business, you will know what I am talking about. Based on a five-star rating, This book offers many insights for anyone thinking about or currently running a Family owned business (FOB). Many ideas they present may seem simple, but when a family is elbow-deep in business, hiring non-family member employees, hiring family members (FM), matching FM's strengths to the FOB - well, it is invaluable. There were some topics I read about and thought, "Wow, I knew that, but I forgot it too!" If you are in business, you will know what I am talking about. Based on a five-star rating, I give it five stars! 1) Buy from the author in the future? Yes 2) Did it keep me intrigued? Yes 3) Story line adventurous, mysterious, and believable? Yes 4) Would I recommend to a family member/friend? Yes. 5) Did my idea of the book based on the cover remain the same after I read the book? Yes. The cover art is straight forward, clean, clear, and simple; just like a good business plan

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This book is written for participants in Family Owned Businesses, but I actually found it highly applicable to my work in corporations - Team dynamics, whether it is my Department or Division, or Project Teams, the interpersonal dynamics tools, measures and techniques are highly applicable to any work situation. Excellently researched and written!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Russell Howen

    "Business is Business: Reality Checks of Family-Owned Companies" contains workable ideas for family-owned businesses. "Business is Business: Reality Checks of Family-Owned Companies" contains workable ideas for family-owned businesses.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Goodreads win This was an informative read on a subject I knew not much about. It was written well and I wasn't left feeling unanswered on questions I had. A good and interesting read. Would recommend. Goodreads win This was an informative read on a subject I knew not much about. It was written well and I wasn't left feeling unanswered on questions I had. A good and interesting read. Would recommend.

  8. 5 out of 5

    BL

    Business is business, but family owned businesses must navigate the more challenging path. The added complexity of employing both family and non-family members can take the business off course. Over the years, I’ve worked in the family bakery, started a custom sports equipment store with my spouse and worked in my son’s dot-com startup. Today, another son attempts to manage me as I work for him in semi-retirement. I’ve also been the non-family member employed in a couple of family businesses, so Business is business, but family owned businesses must navigate the more challenging path. The added complexity of employing both family and non-family members can take the business off course. Over the years, I’ve worked in the family bakery, started a custom sports equipment store with my spouse and worked in my son’s dot-com startup. Today, another son attempts to manage me as I work for him in semi-retirement. I’ve also been the non-family member employed in a couple of family businesses, so I’ve experienced the challenges from both sides of the fence. This book is filled with advice and tips that will help family owned businesses avoid common pitfalls and prevent conflicts with family members and others in the company. The authors, Kathy Kolbe and Amy Bruske, take the moral high ground and speak from experience when they address fairness for all employees. Serious issues around treatment, advancement, compensation and communication are discussed with refreshing frankness. Following their advice will minimize the "us versus them," problems these companies face - whether it's pitting family against nonfamily or children against parents.The book includes many examples drawn from their years of business consulting as well as personal stories. It is clear that the goal in their consulting, and in this book is to provide solutions that propel the business toward increase profitability while offering the best opportunities for all employees, family or otherwise, to contribute their best efforts to that enterprise. Had the book been written 45 years earlier, the advice would have helped my family bakery avoid hiring the son who would rather have been playing in a rock band. It would have helped me be more supportive of both of my son’s entrepreneurial gifts and clarified why my spouse was better suited to developing the business plan for our sport fencing supply company.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    In this excellent and easy to read book, Kathy Kolbe and Amy Bruske give good advice about family businesses. Many business books are published each year, but few of them are about business in the family. I'm glad I found this book. Some of the advice are really helpful, but some of the advice are not quite practical for my family's businesses. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. In this excellent and easy to read book, Kathy Kolbe and Amy Bruske give good advice about family businesses. Many business books are published each year, but few of them are about business in the family. I'm glad I found this book. Some of the advice are really helpful, but some of the advice are not quite practical for my family's businesses. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Lundberg

    There’s a lot of information out there about running a family-owned business, but Kathy Kolbe and Amy Bruske have come up with something special. I was immediately struck by the depth of knowledge this mother-daughter duo shares, as well as the relevance of their deeply personal anecdotes on running a successful family business for more than two decades. Business is Business takes things a step further by reminding us of the importance of having the freedom to be ourselves. Informed by Kathy’s r There’s a lot of information out there about running a family-owned business, but Kathy Kolbe and Amy Bruske have come up with something special. I was immediately struck by the depth of knowledge this mother-daughter duo shares, as well as the relevance of their deeply personal anecdotes on running a successful family business for more than two decades. Business is Business takes things a step further by reminding us of the importance of having the freedom to be ourselves. Informed by Kathy’s research on conation, or the instinctive part of the brain, perhaps the book’s greatest lesson is that freedom to be yourself in a family business is the primary key to running the business successfully. It’s also the key to ensuring that family members don’t end up at each other’s’ throats; Kathy and Amy agree that a family business is not worth much if the “family” part of the equation is left in ruins. I found the book highly practical and easy to read. Each chapter features categorized lists of do’s, don’ts and reality checks to help readers ask the tough questions as they analyze their family businesses. Is the business sustainable? Is work-life balance being given proper consideration? What’s the best way to go about transferring a business to future generations and ensuring the long-term health of the company? These are just some of the questions the book addresses in-depth. Featuring thoughtful, grounded and relevant tips and examples, Business is Business carves out a unique space in the crowded field of business handbooks. I highly recommend it to anyone currently in—or considering starting—a family business.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sterling Loucks

    I have been working in a family business for just under a year now. I wish I would have had this book when I was starting out. By incorporating the simple rules featured in the book I have been able to improve communication at home and in the office. The biggest takeaway for me were tips for separating the personal and professional worlds. These tips are straight-forward and to the point. They have allowed for a much greater balance for myself and the family members I work with.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina

  13. 4 out of 5

    Toby Phillips

  14. 5 out of 5

    Will

  15. 5 out of 5

    LAURI CRUMLEY COATES

  16. 5 out of 5

    Todd Schrock

  17. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Phillips

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shirley

    Thorough and helpful for my home business with my sister. Noted several instances in the book which were plaguing our business and relationship. Was well written and hammered home that business is business, not family.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten is tired

  20. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    This book has some helpful hints to staying on track. This was a Goodreads giveaway book. Very nice.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Goodreads win. Review to come. This was an interesting read. I learned quite a few things about a subject I knew nothing about. It was worth the read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ms Gill C Marchbank

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paula Clark

  24. 5 out of 5

    M.

    As a family owned business owner, I found this book helpful and encouraging.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christine Ayala

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sephora

  28. 4 out of 5

    Josh Patrick

  29. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Heare Watts

  31. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Reader

  32. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Bradley

  33. 4 out of 5

    Donna Smith

  34. 4 out of 5

    Trinity

  35. 4 out of 5

    Edgar Connell

  36. 5 out of 5

    Stacia Chappell

  37. 4 out of 5

    Debee Sue

  38. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

  39. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Salvaggio

  40. 4 out of 5

    Susan Reyna

  41. 5 out of 5

    Ted

  42. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Mason

  43. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  44. 5 out of 5

    Charles Svec

  45. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  46. 5 out of 5

    Melly Mel

  47. 5 out of 5

    Max

  48. 4 out of 5

    E. H.

  49. 4 out of 5

    Beth Long

  50. 4 out of 5

    Pam Mooney

  51. 5 out of 5

    Sweetpea

  52. 4 out of 5

    Renee' Booker

  53. 5 out of 5

    Nell

  54. 4 out of 5

    Pam

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