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What Percentage of Small Businesses are Family-Owned?

By: Jack Nicholaisen author image
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Running a family-owned business is a long-standing tradition in many cultures and economies.

These businesses are often founded and managed by family members who share a common vision and passion for their enterprise.

The family-owned business model differs from other types of businesses in several ways, including decision-making processes, leadership styles, and the degree of personal investment in the company’s success.

article summaryKey Takeaways

  • Family-owned businesses have a long-standing tradition and are often founded and managed by family members who share a common vision and passion for their enterprise.
  • Family-owned businesses can offer unique benefits, such as strong relationships with customers, suppliers, and employees, but also face challenges related to succession planning and family dynamics.
  • According to recent statistics, approximately 90% of all businesses in the United States are family-owned or controlled by families.
  • Family-owned businesses that prioritize communication, transparency, and formal governance structures tend to perform better than those that do not.
  • Entrepreneurs considering starting or taking over a family business should carefully consider the potential benefits and challenges before making a decision.

In this article, we will explore the prevalence of family-owned small businesses, the benefits and disadvantages of this business model, and some of the many examples of successful family-owned businesses.

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Let’s dive in…

Percentage of Family-Owned Small Businesses

According to the Family Owned Business Institute at Grand Valley State University, family-owned businesses account for approximately 90% of all businesses in the United States, and 35% of Fortune 500 companies are family-owned or controlled.

Additionally, The Family Business Alliance reports that family-owned businesses generate 64% of the U.S. GDP, employ 62% of the workforce, and account for 78% of all new job creation.

These statistics demonstrate the significant impact family-owned businesses have on the economy as well as their popularity.

Benefits of Family-Owned Businesses

There are many benefits to operating a family-owned business, including:

1. Shared values and vision

Family members often have a deep understanding of the business’s values and vision, ensuring that the company remains true to its founding principles as it grows and evolves.

2. Long-term perspective

Family-owned businesses tend to prioritize long-term success over short-term gains, which can lead to more sustainable growth and stability.

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3. Loyalty and commitment

Family members are typically highly committed to the success of the business and are often willing to make personal sacrifices to ensure its continued growth and prosperity.

4. Flexibility and adaptability

Family-owned businesses can often make decisions and implement changes more quickly than larger corporations, allowing them to adapt to changing market conditions or seize new opportunities.

5. Strong relationships with employees and customers

Family-owned businesses often have strong, long-lasting relationships with their employees and customers, which can lead to increased loyalty, satisfaction, and repeat business.

Disadvantages of Family-Owned Businesses

Despite their many advantages, family-owned businesses also face unique challenges, such as:

1. Nepotism and favoritism

Family-owned businesses may prioritize hiring and promoting family members over more qualified candidates, which can lead to resentment among non-family employees and limit the company’s ability to recruit top talent.

2. Succession planning

Transitioning leadership from one generation to the next can be a complex and emotional process, as family members may have differing opinions on the future direction of the business or who should assume leadership roles.

3. Conflict resolution

Disagreements between family members can sometimes escalate and become more personal than professional, leading to strained relationships and potentially harming the business.

4. Limited access to capital

Family-owned businesses may have more difficulty securing financing from external sources, as they may be perceived as higher-risk investments or may be unwilling to give up control to outside investors.

Examples of Successful Family-Owned Businesses

Despite the potential challenges, many family-owned businesses have become highly successful and influential. Some examples of large and profitable family-owned businesses include:

  1. Walmart - Founded by Sam Walton in 1962, Walmart is now the world’s largest retailer and is still controlled by the Walton family.

  2. Ford Motor Company - Established by Henry Ford in 1903, Ford remains one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers and is still controlled by the Ford family.

  3. Mars, Incorporated - The global confectionery and pet food giant was founded by Frank Mars in 1911 and is currently owned and operated by the Mars family.

  4. Roche Holding AG - The Swiss multinational healthcare company was founded by Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche in 1896 and remains controlled by the Hoffmann and Oeri families.

In Conclusion…

Family-owned businesses play a crucial role in the global economy, accounting for the majority of small businesses and a significant portion of large, successful companies.

While there are unique benefits to operating a family-owned business, such as shared values and long-term perspectives, there are also potential challenges, including succession planning and conflict resolution.

However, as demonstrated by the examples above, family-owned businesses can thrive and achieve tremendous success when managed effectively.

If you’re considering starting or growing your own family-owned business, schedule a free consultation call with us today!

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Please note that these sources provide valuable insights into the prevalence, benefits, and challenges of family-owned businesses, as well as examples of successful family-owned companies.

It is essential to consult multiple sources for an accurate understanding of this complex topic and to stay up-to-date with the latest research and trends in the field.

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About the Author

jack nicholaisen
Jack Nicholaisen

Jack Nicholaisen is the founder of After acheiving the rank of Eagle Scout and studying Civil Engineering at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), he has spent the last 4 years disecting the mess of informaiton online about LLCs in order to help aspiring entrepreneurs and established business owners better understand everything there is to know about starting, running, and growing Limited Liability Companies and other business entities.