Throughout history, plenty of successful businesses have been owned and run by a family. And while many people would advise against getting into business with your family, things often work out just fine.
So, what is it about family-run businesses that makes them survive and thrive through several generations? “Honesty in business is the glue that holds everything together as it leads to trust, and when there’s trust all challenges can be faced together, there’s not a mountain that cannot be climbed,” says Katherine Grullon Cuervo, the CEO of Distrivision, a titan of tailored wholesale distributorship services for shapewear, lingerie, personal care, sportswear and other high-quality items. With that in mind, let’s talk about why family values and honesty in business matter.
Family values can limit counterproductive infighting
Seeing how someone in your family has sacrificed a lot to see you in a better position over time can prevent you from opposing them without any good reason. For example, Katherine Grullon Cuervo watched her mother, Maria Ruth Cuervo, working in a factory to educate her children after leaving Manizales, Colombia, for the United States.
As she talks about how an immigrant without the language made it in the USA, Grullon Cuervo says, “It was very hard to find work.” She also saw her mother sell all her property and pay everybody to keep her doors open in case something happened, after which she worked in a beauty salon before opening a small boutique.
Once you’ve seen someone do all that for you, it’s hard to dismiss that history and think that they are being malicious when they seem not to agree with you in business. You’re more likely to reexamine the situation.
This is evidenced in how Grullon Cuervo relinquished extra pay and a managerial position in their company but was willing to buy products from it and distribute them when the management team tried to divide their family and take control of the business.
Family values and honesty nourish employee relationships
A business is only as good as the people working for it and the morale amongst them. Often, these people are doing their work to afford their families a better life. However, sometimes they are spread thin between work and family responsibilities.
If they are working with or being led by people who lack family values, they may feel like the job is against their family. “Having such great employees that really cared for the company, also brought it back to life,” Grullon Cuervo recounts as she talks about how they revived the company.
This happens when employees recall how you were there for them and treat them like family. When you exercise family values, employees feel safer knowing that if they face a personal/family issue, you don’t view it as their problem.
They see you helping them help themselves, and they will be more eager to help you when the chance comes. Additionally, being honest about what you can or can’t provide in the short- and long-term makes employees feel like you’re not trying to trick them into favoring you. Grullon Cuervo reiterates that compassion, teamwork and being peaceful help a lot in business.
“It’s very normal to hear, care about yourself first, and only yourself. I think that one of the major differences is putting others first ahead of us, and that golden rule of do for others as you’d like to be done for you,” Grullon Cuervo emphasizes.
She reminds us that one of the significant contributors to their immigrant success story was the large population of Colombian immigrants who made her family feel at home when they settled in Rhode Island. They were welcomed in a way that reinforced the family values and selflessness they took into business.
Family values foster trust
When you have family values in your business, you eventually view your customers as family. You can hardly stand the thought of a customer saying that your products didn’t satisfy them or their loved ones. So, when customers see how quick you are to solve their problems, ensuring they get the right quality, size, texture and other desired product attributes, they trust you more and keep supporting you.
“We want our business customers to trust that we have good quality and good service. Therefore, acquiring and maintaining that trust is the main goal as losing trust is easy. But gaining trust is hard,” Grullon Cuervo says. All-in-all, family values and honesty make stakeholders of various types feel closer to you. They’ll also better understand your mission and their place in it.