What do fashion design houses, wineries — and yes, accounting firms — have in common? Many have their owners’ names on the door. Ask these owners what’s most important to the success of their businesses, and the answer will likely involve their name and reputation.
As a family business owner, you probably feel a special responsibility to honor your family legacy. If you derive full benefit from your family name and reputation, you can often distinguish yourself from competitors because customers know you’re putting your name on the line when doing business together.
So, like it or not, if your name is on the door, you and your family members have a responsibility to live and work in a way that supports both your business and your legacy. This means acting according to your “brand promise” at the office and in your personal life.
The upside of this responsibility is that you have unique opportunities to market your products and services backed by a known name and solid reputation. You can make an impact in your area as an employer and a community supporter, generating goodwill for your company and your family for generations to come.
The downside is that your family members carry the extra burden — and privilege — of representing the company 24/7. If a family member has a problem or is involved in an accident, scandal or an unpopular cause, an easy internet search quickly attaches that issue to the family — and therefore to the family business.
When your name is synonymous with the company, it can also be more difficult to separate family decisions from business decisions. Though it may sound backward, it’s imperative that decisions be made with the success of the business as the primary objective.
In the long run, putting the business first provides the greatest benefit to the family.