Relative Success: 5 Reasons to Keep it in the Family
Family businesses see a variety of benefits
ANCHORAGE - After launching in 2007, Spice Ratchet followed the path of most successful small businesses: production, initial marketing, strategic expansion and eventual financial stability.
But owner Kelly Dyer said her blossoming kitchen gadget company has an advantage. It's a family affair, and not only does her brother own and operate the Chinese factory where her tools are produced, but Dyer said her two daughters are earning their entrepreneurial chops marketing and managing the budding company.
In fact, 19-year-old Josephine Dyer said her University of Alaska business degree would be the icing on the cake: Her entrepreneurial experience included a visit to her uncle’s overseas production plant and years of helping her mother in every area of company operation. Both women said there are several perks to keeping it in the family.
Corporate Culture – Hurrying around a friend’s pristine West Anchorage kitchen Friday, Josephine Dyer said her initiation into the business world had been quick and painless. "When you grow up around a business with your parents, with your mother, your father, your uncles, they know what's going on,” she said, deftly arranging products around the dining room table in preparation for one of Spice Ratchet’s promotional web video shoots. “You get what the company's about."
The understanding also brings financial rewards: According to the consulting website PeakFamilyBusiness.com, family-owned companies generate roughly six percent greater returns on assets than other firms.
Quality Control – The Dyers were confident in their products, and said the 30-second promotional videos were a chance to show potential customers exactly what they’d get for their money. As the hired videographer set up his equipment in a corner of the kitchen, Spice Ratchet’s younger partner said company quality came down to a simple emotion: family pride.
“Sometimes, they don't get it: They think that ‘Oh, if 70, 80 percent of the product is good, that's good enough, lets just stop there,’” said Josephine Dyer, in reference to other, less familial production facilities. “But for us, we want every single product to be perfect. It's that extra something that drives you a little more.”
Ultimately, family-owned company products and services go on to generate 64 percent of
Education – While she continued to pursue her undergraduate degree at UAA, Josephine Dyer’s business education had already included everything from sales and marketing to finance and face-to-face meetings with the Chinese workers who fabricated Spice Ratchet products. When it came time review the same principles in a classroom setting, she said she automatically had a leg up.
Balance – From the outset, many burgeoning businessmen and women report long hours and little rest: boosting a new business off the ground became both a hobby and full-time job. But when family was part of the mix, the experience provided an unexpected level of freedom.
"It's always a group effort, everyone works together,” said Josephine Dyer, describing busy summers spent traveling the United States for trade shows and other business events. “Sometimes it gets a little stressful because it's hard to define where work ends and where home begins, but you sort of just have to respect boundaries. You have to figure out the balance.”
Once the balance was achieved, she said it transferred easily to all other aspects of her life.
Versatility – From personal assistant to marketing director, family businesses bring an automatic resume boost. While Josephine Dyer “officially” filled the role of Spice Ratchet spokeswoman, her duties ran the gamut and included nearly everything else necessary to keep the business on an upward path. After college, she said she planned on moving out of state to explore other business opportunities before eventually moving back home – the skills learned through her own family business opened a plethora of entrepreneurial doors.