The dilemmas of running a family-owned business in Jamaica, PT 1 Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Where family businesses are concerned, there tend to be expectations that a successor from the family will take the reins.

However, many family-owned enterprises have had to grapple with the reality that prospective successors may lack the interest to carry forward the family legacy, driven instead by personal career aspirations.

When this happens, businesses can be left in uncertain or unintentional leadership.

Clyde Douglas, who operates a grocery shop, in Spanish Town, can relate with his family-owned business, started by his parents in the 1950s.

He noted that, of his seven adult children, only one shows interest by assisting him on the weekends, assisting him with the delivery of cooking gas.

But, he is concerned that none of them have expressed a desire in managing the business as they are all employed elsewhere.

He remains hopeful that at least one of his two youngest sons, who still lives at home with him, will eventually come on board.

He’s stated that when his father passed on, the business was closed for two years as he was employed at a factory repairing machines.

He decided to resurrect the business when his work was not providing sufficient income, and subsequently expanded the business to include cooking gas.

‘I had a lot of dreams, and the workplace wasn’t providing the amount of cash that would fulfill my dreams. I realised that I had to start a business to achieve the things I wanted to do. I’m a family-thinking person and I wanted to build my house. I wanted my family to be comfortable,’ he said, adding that he was able to accomplish those goals as well as send his children to university without taking a loan, as a result of operating the grocery shop.

He recalls overseeing the business as a teenager whenever his father needed to rest during the days. And, at the time, of his four siblings, he eventually took over the family business and has been managing same for over three decades.

‘Get them involved from early,’ he suggested as a method of possibly stimulating your child’s interest in a family-owned business.

Julette Cameron sings a different tune. At first, the Spanish Town-based business-owner was not at all interested in her family’s business, but things changed when she became a secretary 36 years ago…

On Monday, May 1, we share Part 2 of this two-part story on the challenges of operating a family-owned business, along with some expert advice from a business banker.