News & Resources

Fueling the Family Enterprise: What Family Businesses Gain by Embracing Diversification


Frederic J. Marx

Family held businesses have long struggled to maintain size and stature through the generations. Even with an emphasis on succession and estate planning, families fall prey to changing environments and deteriorating opportunities that eventually level the company along with the private wealth at stake.

In the U.S., a cultural focus on the individual has created a mindset of dogged persistence and entrepreneurialism that serves as the foundation for a great number of successful businesses. That same disposition, however, can be restrictive when it comes to long term, multigenerational planning and ceding control to the next wave of the family.

Meanwhile, family businesses in Europe, Asia, and South America face similar challenges with a different cultural outlook. Their emphasis is on preserving the business as an extension of the family, with every member of the tree playing a role. This tends to result in legacies that unfold through the business and the family for many generations.

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