Family businesses: Know how to play to your strengths


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In today’s fast-paced and progressive world, corporate organisations are often considered the most successful business structures. International conglomerates such as Virgin Group, Textron, and Time Warner have all attained global success based on their corporate business models. While the achievements of these multi-national organisations is inarguable, family-owned companies are also excelling in the business world.

Once considered an undesirable phrase among the corporate heavyweights, the term ‘family business’ is now a positive business indicator. While many young entrepreneurs start out on their own with a single great idea, other people embark on work ventures with their relatives. Samsung, Mars, and Wal-Mart are all international family-owned enterprises — dispelling the myth that these types of companies only ever reach small to medium size.

In fact, family firms have a range of valuable attributes that are often not found in other organisations. According to the Institute for Family Business, more than three million companies in the UK are owned by families: this demonstrates their integral contribution to the economy. Furthermore, in a world that is increasingly computerised and impersonal, many consumers welcome the sense of loyalty and familiarity that is associated with family enterprises.

However, owners of family-run businesses are often apprehensive about promoting their close-knit ethos as a main USP. They fear that by doing so, their professional appearance will suffer. While it is true that family firms connote a certain informality, this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, consumers are more likely to trust brands that are operated by people who share the same beliefs and are committed to achieving shared goals.

So instead of downplaying your company’s history and fundamental values, use them to your advantage. People will value the honesty of your marketing methods, and appreciate that your business is likely to have been established on solid familial foundations. What’s more, because you are building something that future generations of your family can be a part of (and you aren’t ashamed to admit it), it will resonate with potential customers. By humanising your business, you set yourself apart from the masses of corporate, faceless conglomerates that customers can’t relate to.

Rix Petroleum is one of the UK’s oldest fuel distributors, with over 140 years of industry experience. The company is still entirely family owned; something that Managing Director Tim Rix believes gives them a winning edge over their competitors.

Speaking about their journey, he said: “We have grown exponentially since our humble beginnings, but we still pride ourselves on being a family-orientated business. This ethos is embedded throughout all of our operations, and we think it is apparent in our great customer service.”

So whether you own a family-run company or you are employed by one, always remember to play to your strengths. What might have previously been perceived as an inauspicious business term now encapsulates everything that consumers want from this increasingly corporate world. Your personal investment and commitment is something that — when championed — can earn you a loyal following.





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