Seven Deadly Sins

Dec. 21, 2004

Author Quentin J. Fleming says generational conflicts, succession quandaries, torn loyalties, differing opinions, and personal spats often run family businesses into the ground or make them less valuable in the marketplace. "The main thing that is hurting family businesses," he says, "is the family." Here is Fleming's list of deadly sins and their consequences for the business.

  1. "It's the same old song." People's childhood behaviors and beliefs follow them into the business.
  2. "We're one big, happy family." Failure to acknowledge that business systems require different practices than family systems.
  3. "They may have become adults, but they'll always be my children." Parents are unable to accept their grown children as adults.
  4. "You're not loyal to this family if you insist on being selfish." Failure to acknowledge family members as individuals.
  5. "Father knows best?" Founders usually possess dominating personalities and may be consumed by the business.
  6. "Maybe it will go away if we ignore it." Failing to address problems adds to their destructive potential.
  7. "Tell me about your childhood." Children enter the business before resolving childhood issues.

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