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Lesson #1: Nothing is more important than family.

Lesson #2: A family doesn’t need to be perfect – it just needs to be united.


Therein lies the challenge.


Family businesses and their leaders face tremendous stress.  Not only are they dealing with all the challenges of business, but the family business system inherently intertwines business, family, and ownership – and it gets messy.  Family dynamics bubble over with varied perspectives, generational differences, and tenuous relationships. Hard to be united when there seems to be a steady flow of drama, conflict, and disharmony.


The angst and stress can be overwhelming causing many family business owners to hide it, ignore it, or deny it. Whether it is pride, privacy, anxiety – or perhaps even a combination of all three – the issues are often the reasons family owners “barricade” themselves inside the business and are reluctant to seek outside help.


There is a way out.


There is a way to build a successful, multi-generational family business that doesn’t suck every last ounce of energy out of you.  It starts with giving up the notion, “I/we will figure it out (X) on our own”.  That mentality leads to a long, arduous journey that often ends up in failure.


The statistics don’t lie.


Just 33% of family businesses make it to the second generation, 12% to the third, and a mere 3% to the fourth. Read that again.


One of the ways to beat these odds is to band together with other family businesses in a family business center.  This is a community where the other members “get it”. They have walked in your shoes – maybe 5 years ago, last year or as recently as yesterday.  A family business center provides a safe harbor where family businesses gather together to learn, support one another, share stories, and solve problems.  You don’t know what you don’t know, and a family business center is where you can begin to uncover some of the secrets to building a successful family business.


There is an old adage that states, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”  A family business center can be that rising tide and lift up those businesses and families that come onboard.


The S. Dale High Center for Family Business was founded in 1995 in Lancaster. It is one of the largest and oldest family business centers in the country, supporting over 120+ member companies. To raise the tide for even more family businesses, their leadership team launched a regional presence here in the Lehigh Valley to serve family businesses in Lehigh, Carbon, and Northampton counties. And In September, they also launched a regional presence in Berks County.


This is a membership-based organization for family-owned and privately-held businesses with revenues between $3M and $100M, where leaders come together to learn best practices, attend educational events and seminars, and have the option to participate in peer advisory groups.


In these non-compete group settings, leaders meet to tap into each other’s insights and experiences around business, family, ownership, and personal matters. There is integrity and confidentiality among the members, allowing family business leaders to help one another with their toughest challenges, identify and pursue their most promising opportunities, and develop solutions for growth.


When you give a voice to that which is hidden deep inside, you take its power away. That’s the first step in moving the family and business forward. That is exactly what this family business center facilitates and why Compass Point is the Founding Corporate Partner here in the Lehigh Valley.


We know first-hand the power of learning together, realizing you are not alone, getting unstuck, building lasting friendships, and finding solutions to the challenges you face in your family business. THIS is the “rising tide that lifts all boats.”


If you’re serious about building a successful multi-generational family business and want to be sitting with the best family businesses from this region, you should be part of The High Center for Family Business – Lehigh Valley.


The tide is rising. Will you be rising with it?


Contact Scott Burky burkys@etown.edu to learn more about membership.

For upcoming events visit: www.thehighcenter.com/events


P.S. If you know a family business that needs to read this, feel free to share.

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