Very few large family businesses thrive beyond the third generation. Those that do, find ways to run themselves professionally while making the family happy. Private equity can play a huge role in keeping family legacy but the business moving forward profitably.
McKinsey and Co did research on how family businesses have managed to evolve and survive in various countries.
In advanced economies, as well as in emerging markets, most companies start out as family-owned businesses. From their humble beginnings, driven by entrepreneurial vision and energy, some have grown to become major forces in their economies. Indeed, this still happens not only in emerging markets, with their chaebols in South Korea and grupos in Latin America, but also in North America and Europe, where relatively young family-owned businesses such as Wal-Mart Stores, Bertelsmann, and Bombardier, to name just a few, have become front-runners.
But family-owned businesses—companies in which a family has a controlling stake—face a sobering reality: the statistical odds on their long-term success are bleak. In fact, a number of studies, taken together, suggest that only 5 percent continue to create shareholder value beyond the third generation. This statistic should come as no surprise, given the business challenges any company faces in increasingly competitive markets, to say nothing of the difficulty of keeping growing numbers of family shareholders committed to continued ownership. One kind of risk for these businesses comes from the generations that follow the founder, whose drive and business acumen they might not match, though they may insist on managing the company.
Jacoline Loewen, partner, author of Money Magnet, How to attract investors to your business.