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Being in charge of the family business can be a complicated thing. You will be solely responsible for the accumulated years of wealth and knowledge, passed down through the years to you. But you will also find that the weight of responsibility can be a great burden. In these difficult financial times it can seem as though small family businesses are bound to fail. High streets are turning into ghost towns across the country, and businesses are closing at their highest ever rates. Family businesses tend to be smaller businesses, so the stakes are usually raised in every sense.

If you’re in charge of the family business in these difficult times then you are probably thinking most about keeping everything in line and keeping it above water. Small businesses are naturally vulnerable in the economic downturn, as they can’t maintain the same momentum as their larger rivals. As a result they have to find more creative ways to make savings and drive sales up. It can be a difficult prospect for any business. But for a family business, where tradition is often at a premium, making progressive changes can sometimes seem untoward.

Nonetheless, all of your ancestors would prefer for you to make some changes and keep the business than remain stubborn and lose it. So it’s up to you to identify the avenues down which you will progress in order to keep your business from going down.

First off you should be looking at what you are spending money on excessively. This should be a cornerstone of helping any business to save money, but it will always be particularly relevant in a family business. In a family business, there will be personal attachments mixed in with the whole business. This means that people have added their own personal touches to various parts of the business that do nothing for it. These little touches are probably what distinguish you from your corporate competitors, but they are also some of the things that make you weak.

You should be looking to streamline your business, and personal attachments can often get in the way of that. So make sure that you begin by committing to being business-minded. This means jettisoning anything that you know to be inefficient or too costly in favour of saving the core functions of the business. It means, in many senses, being completely ruthless. This can be particularly difficult, as a family business is often about so much more than profit. But remember, if you want to save the core of your business then you are going to have to make decisions like these.
Family Business

You will also have to start making prudent decisions when it comes to buying things. You may have once enjoyed the pleasure of buying brand new equipment for your farm, safe in the knowledge that it would last for the next 50 years. But now your future isn’t so secure you need to be more practical. Use sites like http://farm.autotrader.co.uk to get good deals on equipment that you will make the most of in the near future.

You will also have to make some more difficult decisions when it comes to your staff. It is likely that you have developed a prolonged personal relationship with those who have worked with your business over the years. These may have to be sacrificed for the greater good of the company. You may have to change suppliers, taking your business from a trusted firm to a larger and cheaper one that will offer you a greater profit margin. Unfortunately friendship will not keep your business afloat, and you need to start thinking more dispassionately if you want to save any money.

You should also be pushing to think about maximising the talent and knowledge that you already have inside your business. This means using new online media to engage with your clientele, and it means being more clever about promoting your services. There will be plenty of ways to view what your competition is charging online, so you should be looking to undercut them  in every way.

You should also be looking to promote your business in unusual ways, particularly if it means presenting some competition to larger businesses. As a smaller business you can capitalise on the David and Goliath story, so don’t be afraid of using it. As a family business you can also use emotive means to promote your story of tradition and heritage. This emphasises the quality of your products, whilst also making sure that people favor you over a faceless supermarket or megastore.

You should furthermore be looking to work with these supermarkets in ways that benefit you. If you produce artisanal products then there is a chance that you will be able to start retailing wholesale to supermarkets. This way you can use their infrastructure and client base in order to spread the word about your product. This can be a great option if you think that your existing modes of distribution are falling short of your true potential. Don’t be afraid to be forward in this regard. In some cases supermarkets will approach you, but only if they think that they will make money from you. If you want to profit from them then you should be approaching them and giving them the pitch.

In general, keeping a small family business afloat will be as much of a gift as it will be a burden. You have the chance to fight for something that is definitely worth fighting for, and which has been worked on for many generations. Of course, the responsibility is fairly large, and huge amounts of pressure can follow on from that. But if the stakes are raised then the rewards will be greater. As the leader of the family business your work and personal life will always be blurred. This means that any success at work will make you happier in your home life. Ultimately it will give you an incredible sense of satisfaction that you wouldn’t otherwise experience at a regular job.

About Denny Jones

Hi there! I am Denny, a personal finance blogger and I love to share tips related to managing finance for a better living. Follow my blog for lots of fresh and exciting tactics to control your finances.
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