Carmichael’s, the restaurant her family owns in my new novel, has me looking more closely at others.

Large or small, family-owned businesses stand apart from other company models. Upward mobility into management may be limited for non-family, for one thing, and succession from one generation to the next can impose special hurdles – few family-owned enterprises survive into the fourth or fifth generations. And then inheritance tax issues can hit heavily, if key players fail to prepare properly. And that’s before we get into sibling rivalries and family spats.

On the other hand, they can be more flexible in aiming at long-range results or adapting to change.

In my new novel, What’s Left, these all play into the story. Her family isn’t like other employers, for sure. And it’s primed for exciting big growth.

Well, this is a novel, after all, and not a business-school textbook. Here are a few details that were cut from the final version:

Much of the success of their brainstorming and resulting investment would rest on the quality of the colleagues they could hire. Employees is entirely the wrong word, and associates, as it’s come to be used, hadn’t come along yet. So it’s colleagues, yes, even as a step away from comrades. They have to be trustworthy and hardworking. And they’ll be rewarded. Dimitri, after all, isn’t your average young executive. His three-piece suits by now were usually all in the closet.


As it turns out, that’s not all that was in the closet. Cassia’s uncle Dimitri advocates some radical alternatives when it comes to earning a living or investing in the local economy. Could it be because he had to work hard in the restaurant itself as a child? Unlike other executives, he seems to look at the operation from the bottom-up rather than top-down. He knows the nuts-and-bolts details that aren’t taught in business school.

Have you ever worked in a family-owned business? How did it differ from other employers?

One thought on “WORKING FOR A FAMILY

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