Friday, September 5, 2008

Old ways vs New Ways

Any family run business that is in it's third generation is in trouble.


They are exceptional.

And by exceptional, I mean they have tossed out the old thinking and reinvented themselves for the future, yet retained the key elements that that made them unique that are still relevant.

This happened in my own family, and I've seen it occur in others, repeatedly.

My Dad's parents were entrepreneurs. I have a couple of my grandfathers business cards from the 1940's. He was a coffee distributor according to the card. His wife ran a bakery, together they started Howard's Restaurant in Colebrook, New Hampshire.

They put their blood, sweat and tears in the business, the family (kids) worked in the business and they knew everyday was a fight to win, to provide for the family, and be a success.

The business was taken over by my Uncle Dean, the eldest of 4. He knew first hand from growing up in the business the lessons that were learned by hard work and together he and my Aunt Jean had the right balance of hard work and rewards to continue the family business.

Dean and Jean had 3 kids who also grew up in the business and yet these three kids did not see the work that their grandparents put in to establish the business. One of my cousins took over from my Aunt and Uncle. He married and later divorced and the business was sold. Thankfully Howard's Restaurant is still in business, a waitress who worked there bought it and retained the name.

That third generation never knew the first generation and the perspective was different, not just in business but life overall.

With life spans increasing it is now possible for all three generations of a business to work side by side. Use the wisdom from the past along with the knowledge of the current and future times to be exceptional.

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