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Make the family business work

Conflicts are common in a family business because of blood relations and the thin line dividing personal and business affairs.
By Ellen Desear-Espiritu |
Make the family business work

The size of the business does not matter: the same resentments and jealousies simmer or boil over whether the business is a small company or a conglomerate with a huge holding firm.

The operations manager, a nephew, may resent the new sales manager, a cousin, for drawing a bigger salary or receiving more perks. The assistant vice president, a son, may hate a younger sibling because the upstart is being groomed to take over from the patriarch.

The resentments come to a head when the family fails to separate blood ties from strictly business concerns, according to Fernan Lucban, director of the University of Asia and the Pacific’s Entrepreneurial Management Program. “The task here is to make a successful shift from running a family business to building a lasting corporate organization,” he says. Family members can avoid conflict by agreeing on key issues such as the business’ direction, their specific roles in the company, and the rewards each of them may expect.


Mila’s Lechon matriarch Antonina Cesario credits discipline and a common goal for the success of the 30-year-old business with 37 stores in Metro Manila. A strong work ethic binds the siblings together. “Matagal na kaming nagne-negosyo,” says Cesario, 70, a pharmacy graduate. “Bata pa kami tinuruan na kaming lahat na magkakapatid na magtinda. May kaya ang mga magulang namin pero hindi kami pinayaman sa pera kundi sa disiplina, tipid, sipag at tiyaga. Kung hindi naturuan nang husto ang mga bata na magnegosyo, siguro walang nangyari.”

What else should you do to make your family business a success?

 • Ask if the business is progressive.

If not, know why and then make it more efficient and forward-looking, says Lucban. If your business is candle making, don’t stop at making candles but start selling the candles yourself, putting up more stores, and producing related products. Mila’s Lechon started with vegetables and fruits. “Nung nagtitinda pa lang ako ng prutas, ang aim ko noon magkaroon ng malaking puwesto para sa karinderya,” Cesario says. “Nung magkaroon ako ng karinderya, sabi ko magtitinda ako ng lechon. Ngayong meron na akong lichunan, sabi naman ng anak ko tignan namin ‘yung potential na mag-franchise.


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