Topic Up In Your Business Podcast

“Up in Your Business” with Henry Ma: Taking over the Family Business

“Up in Your Business” with Henry Ma: Taking over the Family Business

The longer you work in a family business like Henry Ma, CEO of the Embroidery machine manufacturer, the more intertwined your family life and business life will become. Every decision you make for both will affect the other somehow—and so will every decision made by your employees and other family members involved with the company. 

When managing employees who may also have family ties, Henry Ma advises that don’t expect everyone to like (or agree with) all of your decisions. You should develop a thick skin and become comfortable having tough conversations to ensure that everyone understands what’s expected of them personally and professionally. 

Also, remember that as an employer who cares about their employees, it can be difficult not to take things personally when people aren’t happy with your decision. 

Listen to Episode 7, part 1

Put in the Hard Work 

According to Henry Ma, it can be challenging to take over a family business if you haven’t worked your way up from the bottom. It would help if you showed that you’re willing to do the hard work, learn about all business areas, and not jump in with big ideas. This is where you need to prove yourself before taking on any leadership roles. 

You Need to Earn the Respect of Employees 

As the next generation of your family, you have the advantage that the employees already know you. It does not necessarily mean that they will respect you. 

For them to accept you as the new boss, you must earn their respect through hard work and integrity. Employees will tell if you’re dishonest but are willing to accept just about any hardship if they experience fairness and equity. 

Show your employees that you have a strong knowledge of the industry, its customers, and trends by demonstrating your skill set at every opportunity. The keyword here is “demonstrating.” 

Don’t tell people how great you are; show them by delivering results, whether it’s via a well-thought-out strategy or cost-cutting measures, without affecting quality and service levels. 

Be Prepared for Jealousy and Resentment 

Jealousy, resentment, and conflict are common among siblings in the family business. Even if you don’t think any of these feelings are issues for your family, you should be aware that they can arise at any time. It’s best to have a plan in place to deal with them. 

To start, ensure an understanding of roles and expectations for each sibling in your business and that everyone knows what their job description entails. This will prevent miscommunication about who does what and what each person does. 

From there, it’s all about communication! Henry Ma advises that you should encourage open communication between family members so that no one feels like they can’t express themselves or talk through problems. 

Take time every week to sit down with each team member and have an open conversation; ask questions such as: “How do you feel about last week? What could we improve? What was your favorite part? 

There are No Guarantees 

Taking over a family business is not a surefire path to security and economic success. While it has its perks and benefits, there are also many challenges that you have to overcome. There are no guarantees.   

You have to make the business successful, but that might not be enough. Your plans might fail at any moment, and there is nothing you can do about it. 

You could lose everything you ever worked for, which would mean the end of your career. If the business fails, there is no guarantee that you will find another job quickly (if at all). It can lead to financial struggles for your entire family. 

Listen to Episode 7, part 2

A New Way of Thinking 

To thrive in a family business, Henry Ma recommends looking at your role and the business with fresh eyes. Think about business differently from how your parents did. 

You must also think about your relationship with family members in different ways. In addition, you will need to think differently about yourself, your role, and how you can contribute to the family legacy. 

You will also have to think about what type of leader you want for future generations and non-family managers and employees. 

One of the biggest challenges facing all family businesses is maintaining a positive culture rooted in strong values and traditions passed down through generations. 

As a new leader, you must understand these values and maintain them as they are an integral part of who you are as both an individual and a company. 

While taking over a family business can be challenging, there are strategies for making it work. 

As the second generation involved in your family business, you face challenges different from those faced by leaders of non-family businesses. You’re not just dealing with business issues but family dynamics. 

The family has a strong emotional commitment to the business because it is their legacy. They can take a keen interest in how the company will look in 10 or 20 years and, as a result, feel protective of their roles or future roles for other family members. 

Wrap Up! 

Taking over the family business is never an easy task, even though you might be ready for it. Keep in mind that you’re dealing with the family, and people are never simple, so don’t expect them to be. Also, don’t rush much into these kinds of things! 

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Jason Randall

Jason Randall

Jason L. Randall is the CEO of The Questco Companies. He regularly speaks on topics related to strategy, growth, and organizational performance.