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If you’re involved in a private business you’re also involved in a family business.  If you’re the owner you already know this.  If you’re an employee you might want to think about what this means.

Private businesses that are owned and run by individuals are different from public companies or companies owned by private equity.  Private business owners can make decisions that those who work for other owners believe they can’t make.

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Private businesses often have more soul

I know this is a bold statement.  If you want, you can argue with me.  This is my experience.  I find that private business owners think about their business differently than those who work for public companies.  Owners are proud of what they create.  They want to be a positive influence in their community.  Reputation matters and the owner of a private business cares a lot about their reputation.

It often comes down to family values.  If you own a private business you probably have your personal values represented in the company that you own and run.  You’ll think about your actions and your reputation long and hard before doing something that might harm it.  Often, you’ll decide to make less money because in your value system it’s the right thing to do.


Private business owners are often a little quirky

You could say that all employers are a little quirky.  Private business owners might just be a little more than the average bear.  When you own a business it becomes an extension of your personality.  If you decide to work for a small business, getting to know the owner is a good idea.  The business will likely reflect the owner’s personality and belief systems.

The owner’s family also has influence on how a business is run.  If you’re a small business owner you know that your significant other and even your children influence how you run your business.  If you’re having problems in your business you’ll probably talk about them with your spouse.  If you’re thinking about expansion, you’ll talk about it with your family.  Family dinner conversations are often about your business.  The results of these conversations will find their way into the way you run your business.


Private business owners care about and take actions to protect employees

When economic times get tough small business owners will not look to layoffs as the first remedy.  Lots of times owners of businesses will cut their salaries and sometimes stop taking a salary themselves before laying off employees.  Its part of what their belief system is.

It’s not easy to come home and tell your family that you have to lay off people.  I know that in my own career that when I had this conversation at home my family would often question if there was another way.  Preserving jobs is important to a private business owner.  They can relate.  The people they’re going to have to lay off are ones that depend on you for their living.  You probably take this responsibility very seriously.


Private business owners are usually in it for the long haul

Unlike employees in public companies, owners of private companies are in it for the long haul.  Most of the private business owners I run across plan to be in business twenty years from now.  Many times that doesn’t happen.  It’s not because you don’t want it to, other issues get in the way.

In my own case the industry became unsustainable.  If it hadn’t, I still would be in the food service business and been happy to do so.  Its part of the deal with business owners, the business is part of them.  When they get out of their business they lose a part of themselves.  This is one of the reasons that smaller businesses are often better bets than larger ones for a long career.


Understand how the business integrates with the family

There is too much pressure on separating business from family.  I think instead it makes more sense for you to integrate your business with your personal life.  It’s probably what you’re doing anyway.  It’s really OK for you to take your family values and integrate them in your business. It’s OK for you to take your personal beliefs and integrate those in your business. 

After all, it is your business.


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Topics: business coaching, for business owners, private business owners

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