One of the issues family businesses face is the idea of having non-family members in key roles in the business. Mom & Dad started the business (or Grandpa & Grandma) and no non-relative has ever really been in a position of influence. The idea of a non-family member running the show seems blasphemous to some families. Some children (often with encouragement from their parents) feel like it’s their natural right to own & run the business however they see fit without any input from anybody else.
Sometimes attitudes are a little less hostile. It might just be that family members feel like it’s a privacy issue, or that they’re convinced no one could ever really be as passionate about the business as they are.
Whatever the reasons, input from outside the family, in my mind, is critical for most family businesses. If the only people running the business are family, there tends to be a shortage of new ideas (if they exist at all), not to mention a fair amount of “because we’ve always done it that way” attitude. I recently questioned a second-generation business owner (in his mid 50’s) who basically said that they did it a certain way because that’s how his dad did it and his dad made good money that way. “You think you’re smarter than my dad?” was the gist of the conversation.
Get past your pride! This is 2012, not 1970, and the world is constantly changing. The ideas that worked 40 years ago (or even 10 years ago) may not be valid anymore. For a business to remain successful and dynamic into the future, it has to change, and change requires new ideas, the more the better. There’s nothing wrong with getting ideas from somebody outside your family.
Maybe for your business it’s just a matter of making sure you promote based on ability and not on genetics. Maybe it’s putting together a board of directors with some outside perspective (good article on family business BOD’s by Mario Vicari & Tyler Ridgeway http://www.familybusinessmagazine.com/). Maybe it’s aligning your business with an advisor or coach. Whatever you decide to do, get some outside help. If you don’t, you could be missing out on the idea that will drive your business into the future.