Are Family Businesses A Guy Thing?

by Thursday Bram on August 25, 2011

Family BusinessI come from a family of entrepreneurs and, sometimes, I notice things.

One of the things that I’ve noticed is that when a family member is thinking about a major expansion or handing things off to the next generation, a bunch of conversations take place — more often than not between male family members.

In talking to other entrepreneurs, I’ve gotten the impression that I’m seeing more than my own family’s dynamics at play.

It’s not purely a question of gender and entrepreneurship, either: the women in my family, on this site and elsewhere that I know rock building their own businesses.

Rather, the question that I think needs to be asked in this context is how women and men each see building businesses in terms of family.

The Time Span

It’s my experience that women look more at the immediate opportunities and drawbacks of business when starting up: the sheer number of women who become entrepreneurs in order to take care of their families’ immediate needs, get the flexibility necessary to handle other obligations and so on are very high.

Guys, on the other hand, are a little more willing to invest every minute they’ve got on a business for a return that’s further in the future.

This has several consequences: I’ve seen many women who are effectively serial entrepreneurs, focusing on the type of business that can help them in the now, rather than banking on building the next big thing.

That can (though certainly doesn’t always) translate to a business with a shorter life — not something that’s built with handing down to the kids or the rest of the family in mind.

This is definitely not a negative, nor is it universal. It’s simply a situation I’ve seen repeated numerous times.

The Key Staff

Another factor is in play, despite the fact that we’d all like to assume that it doesn’t matter to an entrepreneurs — gender. Due to historical and cultural circumstances, it’s much more typical for an male entrepreneur to bring his wife into the business to help on some level than it is for a female entrepreneur to bring her husband into her work.

I firmly believe this trend is changing and not just because I try to pull my own husband into each of my new schemes as they come up.

I do know women who have brought their partner into their businesses in some capacity these days, even if they are still in the minority.

That historical trend is still in play, as are the other differences that can be seen between male and female entrepreneurs, though. On the surface, at least, these situations make it seem like family businesses are more of a guy thing than a typical goal for a woman starting a business.

Image by Flickr user Jacob Enos, Creative Commons

Thursday Bram offers content marketing through Hyper Modern Consulting, as well as more traditional writing services. She’s also the co-creator of Constructively Productive, the blog that’s bringing perspective to productivity. You can find Thursday on Twitter.

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