The Three "C's" for Family Business Success

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

For a family business to be successful, the family and the family business needs to be committed to the 3 C's.

Failure to pay close enough attention to the 3 C's will often result in the breakdown of family relationships and may eventually lead to the failure of the family business itself.

If you are reading this article, it's likely you are part of a family business.

It may be likely that your family business is experiencing some conflict or is not operating as well as it good be.

Chances are the root cause of the challenges that your family business is facing can be traced back to the 3 C's of family business.


If you have read any of my other resources, you know that communication is a critical component of family business success.

But it's not just any type of communication. It's not just casual conversation or holding regular meetings.

It's open and healthy communication about the important aspects of the family business.

This means communicating about:

- everyone's role in the company and how each role will be evaluated

- how promotions within the family business are handled

- how decisions are made

- what will the management transition and ownership succession plan look like

These are fundamental and core issues that are important to every family member.

If you fail to discuss these issues and topics today, chances are, you will be arguing about them tomorrow.

Core issues never go away.

And failing to address them openly, will only lead to greater challenges down the road.

For your family to achieve and enjoy both short-term and long-term harmony and success, you must COMMUNICATE.

Especially about the topics that are the most difficult to talk about.


Don't we all want clarity?

Do any of us enjoy looking through a windshield covered with mud while we drive our car to the store?

Of course not.

Driving a car with a dirty windshield, is not only frustrating, it's unsafe.

The same is true for your family business.

All businesses need clarity.

Everyone needs to know what the goals are, and how the company will get there.

Clarity is even more important in a family business because of the added complexity of family history and family dynamics.

Clarity must be established for family members not to become frustrated with one another and for family culture to not breakdown.

Family members need to be able to look at the family business, and how they fit into it, through a clear, and unobstructed windshield.

Clarity is an absolute must, when designing a family business succession plan.


Like clarity, most of us crave certainty.

We want to know what tomorrow will look like.

We want to know that things won't change. Or if things must change, we want to know that we will have a say in how things will change.

Certainty, can partly be described as, "control."

If we can't control things on our own, we want to know that there are control's in place to protect our interests.

Certainty, can also be defined as, "trust."

We need to be able to know with certainty that we can trust other members of our family.

We need to have certainty that each family member will carry out their responsibilities in the family business to the best of their ability.

We need to have certainty, that others in the family business will do what they said they will do.

We need to have certainty that procedures that have been established in the family business will be followed.

If certainty is not established, it is hard to create trust between family members. And if there is no trust in the family business, there is likely to be conflict.

Working in a family business is often not easy. But you can make things easier on you, on your family, and on your family business by ensuring that you have established the 2 C's in your family business.

Chris Hall is a business management consultant and family business advisor that specializes in supporting family-owned business in all aspects of the family business experience. To learn more, please log on to: www.abbusinessbuilders.ca

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