3 Family-Owned Businesses Share Their Insights for Long Term Success

by Saleha Jogiyat

As we all know, the past year has been one of extreme challenges for businesses and families everywhere. The stress of an uncertain economic environment, the need to pivot business models and the strain of quarantine put many family-owned businesses under unique pressure. In fact, according to a recent report from KPMG, more than two-thirds (69%) of family owned businesses globally saw their revenues decrease during the pandemic and 41% were forced to cut costs to stay afloat.

Fortunately, we’re starting to see businesses rebound: according to the QuickBooks’ Small Business Recovery Report, by the end of March 2021 all 10 U.S. industry sectors were back above the monthly revenue benchmarks they set before the pandemic. For example, monthly revenue for the construction industry in March 2021 was up by 30%, the retail industry was 22% ahead of its pre-pandemic benchmark, and manufacturing was 20% ahead.

Regardless of the pandemic, however, we know times won’t always be easy for any small business – especially with the added dynamics that come when you work day in and day out with loved ones. So how can you successfully work with family members, even during the most stressful times, to ensure your business endures? Here are three insights from real entrepreneurs, shedding light on the resilience, patience and perspective that’s needed to keep a family-owned business going throughout the years.

Don’t Be Afraid to Modernize.

“We’ve come a long way from when my grandfather started the business in 1949. Up until 2012 when I joined, he was still using a handwritten ledger to manage our books! By getting us on QuickBooks, we’ve been able to make more strategic decisions for the business as it helps us to forecast and provides valuable insights on our cash flow. This was incredibly important during the pandemic as we had to close down our in-person operations and pivot completely to e-commerce and takeout.” — Megan Ackroyd, President of Ackroyd’s Scottish Bakery based in Redford, Michigan

Think About the Future.

“Our mission is  to provide healthy, sustainable food with packaging that is plastic-free. For my husband and I, this is near and dear to our hearts because we want to leave the world a better place for our daughter. We actually pivoted the brand to focus more on the plastic-free component when we became parents, realizing the importance of sustainability for the next generation. When we made this shift we ultimately saw our revenues increase, despite a huge setback back during the start of the pandemic in March 2020.” –Kate Flynn, co-founder of Sun and Swell Foods based in Santa Barbara, California

Focus on More than the Bottom Line.

“When stay-at-home orders first went into effect last year, we were forced to shut down our distillery and tasting room. We saw this as an opportunity to give back to our community and the overall efforts to combat the pandemic. Working with local organizations, we pivoted from making vodka, gin, whiskey, absinthe and amaro to making bulk hand sanitizer. We’re so proud to have helped efforts in our community during such a difficult time.” — Joshua and Sarah Opatz, co-founders of Young & Yonder based in Healdsburg, California

Megan Ackroyd, Kate Flynn, and Joshua and Sarah Opatz are all the leaders of family-owned small businesses.

Family-owned businesses stock image by Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

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