June 23 is a day of special significance to us here at In Plain Sight Marketing – it’s National Family Owned & Operated Businesses Day! Renee Plain, our CEO launched IPSM in January 2012 and I joined her (I’m Renee’s mom!) in 2015 as a full partner in the company.

Running a business with family members is not for the faint of heart as family dynamics can play a part in the day-to-day management, but the benefits are tremendous. Honest and open communication and mutual respect are the cornerstones of successful family business management.

There is nobody I trust more than Renee. We balance each other’s’ strengths and weaknesses. I am impressed every day by her ability to navigate our community, network like a boss and creatively solve problems for our clients. I know she appreciates my strategic planning and writing abilities.

On National Family Owned & Operated Businesses Day, we recognize and honor the hardworking families like ourselves who run small businesses, keeping them thriving and providing valuable goods and services to their communities.

According to the Small Business Administration, 33.3 million small businesses make up 99.9% of all businesses in the United States. Small businesses employ 61.6 million people, which is 45.9% of the entire workforce – even though 80% of small businesses have no employees and are solely managed by their owners. From quaint mom-and-pop shops to multi-generational enterprises (and local marketing and PR firms!), these businesses play a crucial role in our society and deserve recognition for their dedication and perseverance.

Today, we’ll dive into the phenomenon, opportunities, and challenges of working in family-owned businesses and understand why marketing and public relations are vital to their success.

The Heartbeat of the Community

Family-owned businesses are more than just economic entities; we are the heartbeat of our communities. We bring unique qualities to the market, such as:

Personal Touch: Family businesses often provide personalized customer service that large corporations struggle to match. The intimate knowledge of our customers’ needs allows us to build strong, lasting relationships. Our favorite thing to do is to put people and organizations together to create new and exciting partnerships.

Community Connection: Family businesses are deeply rooted in local communities, often participating in local events, supporting local causes, and contributing to the community’s overall well-being. It always amazes us when business owners feel the need to bring in outside help rather than work with other small local businesses who are active, vital contributors to the local economy and understand the market better than anyone else.

Legacy and Tradition: Many family businesses are passed down through generations, preserving traditions and fostering a sense of continuity and trust among customers. We always have fun with the idea that we represent a number of generations (X, millennial and GenZ) which helps us understand each other and the world according to how we see it.

Opportunities in Family-Owned Businesses

Working in a family-owned business comes with unique opportunities, such as:

Agility and Flexibility: Family businesses can make decisions quickly without the need for extensive bureaucratic processes. This agility allows us to adapt swiftly to market changes and customer needs. When the state shut down on Friday, March 13, 2020, due to the pandemic, IPSM was fully online and in business on Monday, March 16, 2020, due to our ability to pivot. All our technology is cloud-based, and we were able to work from home without sacrificing access to our tech stack.

Innovation: With fewer hierarchical barriers, family businesses can encourage creativity and innovation among their members, leading to unique products and services. For IPSM, because we are small and mighty with a large extended team of trusted partners who specialize in the many complex systems now available for marketing, we can quickly assess and access the kind of support your business needs.

Strong Work Ethic: The personal investment of family members often translates to a high level of dedication and a robust work ethic, ensuring the business’s sustained success. At IPSM, we work hard and play hard. We offer unlimited PTO so our people, including ourselves, can recharge when needed.

Challenges in Family-Owned Businesses

However, running a family-owned business is not without its challenges:

Succession Planning: Ensuring a smooth transition from one generation to the next can be complicated and emotionally charged. Clear succession planning is crucial for the longevity of the business. Long range planning and clear communications are critical to making this happen.

Balancing Roles: Family members often wear multiple hats, which can blur the lines between professional and personal relationships, leading to potential conflicts. Renee can call me Mom and Kathie in the same sentence, which helps us understand the context in which we are communicating. Setting clear boundaries of family vs. business has really helped us both survive and thrive.

Resource Constraints: Unlike larger corporations, family businesses may have limited access to capital and resources, which can restrict their growth and expansion opportunities. However, having long lasting relationships in the community we serve has given us tremendous insight into opportunities to grow.

The Importance of Marketing and Public Relations for Family Owned & Operated Businesses

In today’s competitive market, marketing and public relations (PR) play a pivotal role in the success of family-owned businesses. Almost one-third of small businesses do not have websites, with 20% opting to use social media instead. This isn’t a great strategy as your Facebook post will reach approximately 1-3% of your followers; and 75% of shoppers will visit your website before they visit your store.

As marketers ourselves, we know precisely why your small business needs us, and here’s why:

Building Brand Awareness: Effective marketing strategies help family businesses reach a wider audience, enhancing their visibility and attracting new customers. We know effective strategies come from research and planning. Without those, you are throwing spaghetti at the wall and money out the window.

Telling Your Story: PR is about storytelling. Family businesses have unique stories rooted in heritage and tradition, and you should not only tell your story, but you also need to LIVE your story. Sharing these genuine stories in your authentic voice can create a strong emotional connection with customers, fostering loyalty and trust.

Reputation Management: Maintaining a positive public image is essential. PR strategies help manage the business’s reputation, handle crises, and ensure a consistent brand message. Communication planning is crucial to your small business. It’s not if, it’s when, your next crisis will hit. Are you ready to handle it?

Digital Presence: In the digital age, having a robust online presence is crucial. Marketing efforts, including social media and digital advertising, can significantly boost a family business’s reach and engagement. Do you understand the difference between digital and organic? Boosted and sponsored?

As marketers and public relations professionals, we have the education, credentials and expertise to build strategic communications roadmaps leveraging your social media*, your website, your e-commerce platform, your digital ads, your print and broadcast ads, your email marketing, your content marketing, your public relations, your crisis communications, and all the other components of a solid marketing and PR plan. This leaves you to focus on what you do well – run your business. If you’re among the 47% of small business owners doing your own marketing, you need to read this article to learn more about paid and organic social media.

*For more cool information on social media use, read this article from Forbes.

We celebrate you, Family Owned & Operated Businesses!

On National Family Owned & Operated Businesses Day, we celebrate the resilience, dedication, and contributions of family-owned businesses. We are the backbone of our national economy and contribute to the preservation of our local economies and communities by providing unique products and personalized services. While we face unique challenges, the opportunities for growth and success are immense, especially with effective marketing and PR strategies in place. So, the next time you visit your local bakery, bookstore, or any family-owned business, remember the passion and dedication that goes into every product and service.

Happy National Family Owned & Operated Businesses Day!