Last week, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and the University of Connecticut Family Business Program presented their Family Business Conference. Various panelists discussed a number of issues that family businesses face — or at least that they should face and not ignore or gloss over. Some, of course, are important for any closely held business; others are unique to family businesses.
Two points stood out because they were repeated in different forms throughout the day. First, recognize explicitly that a family business is a blend of your family and your business. Both are important to you and both should be supported so that they remain healthy. Second, fair does not always mean equal. Most starkly, the consensus is clear that simply dividing control of a family business among siblings may seem equal but frequently isn’t fair.
Honoring these two points isn’t necessarily easy, but that fact makes them no less important.