Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business: Ensure Generational Success


"Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business: Ensuring Success from One Generation to the Next" is a guide written by a consultant raised in the home of two separate business. This perspective helps readers explore what part of their "family problems" is affecting their family business.

Dirty Little Secrets Of Family Business

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As shared in Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business: Ensuring Success from One Generation to the Next, approximately 66 percent of family businesses don’t make it to the next generation. While this fact is known (think about the famous saying about family “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations”), what isn’t well known is why. Most books focus on the rational aspects of failing as family business. This book focuses on the not-so-obvious aspects that can destroy a family business.

What “Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business” is About

The core concept behind Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business is not a “dirty little secret” at all. In fact, it’s an obvious realization: Families and businesses are not the same. The problem (and this is where the “dirty little secret” comes in) is that most under-performing family businesses don’t realize this. Serious problems can occur when you mix family problems with the family business and vice versa. When family members don’t communicate, are under-prepared or overpaid, the family business is destroyed.

The way out of this little conundrum for family businesses is proper planning, but author Henry Hutcheson is focusing on more than a succession plan or family meeting. His goal is to tackle five “traps” that family businesses often fall into. These are problems in:

  • Communication,
  • Delegation,
  • Financial Responsibility,
  • Fair Compensation and
  • Education.

By addressing these “traps” with policies and procedures, family businesses can steer clear of the majority of relationship-destroying behaviors that plague other businesses.

Henry Hutcheson (@HenryHutcheson) is a speaker, author, consultant, president and founder of Family Business USA, a consulting agency for family businesses. Hutcheson comes from a family of business owners. His mother worked for Olan Mill Portrait Studios and his father managed Peerless Woolen Mills.

What Was Best About Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business

The best part of Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business is the book’s focus on family as they are, not as they should be. Henry Hutcheson grew up in an environment of family business. This gives a unique perspective on issues like entitlement, differing attitudes towards money and personality clashes. They are things not covered in depth in another book on a similar subject, Linda Davis Taylor’s  The Business of Family: How to Stay Rich for Generations. While The Business of Family is good for wealth planning, Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business is good for relationship management that is crucial to the business.

This provides some measure of support for the obvious family issues that often seem intractable later down the line.

What Could Have Been Done Differently

The book is an overall great general guide to a wide variety of issues that can crop up during the operation of a family business. Because of that, this book does not provide a step-by-step map to addressing family problems. It provides an overview (often with an example) and some recommendations on how to fix them.

Why Read Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business

If you are thinking about or currently running a family business, this book provides a great exploratory guide to the potential obstacles in the process. The author demonstrates his own experience as a son raised around two home businesses throughout the book and uses that experience to share straightforward and common-sense recommendations on a lot of topics that some readers may not have even considered.

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Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.