Daughters and Wives as Heirs to the Family Business

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January 12, 2012 ‐ By Rhonda Campbell

"Linda Johnson Rice"

By Rhonda Campbell

Just because a woman has a quality education, drive and determination doesn’t mean she’ll manage the family business successfully after a parent hands her the reigns. Furthermore, as it is with sons, daughters too have a greater chance of succeeding as Chairperson or Chief Executive Officer of the family business if they’ve been prepared, nurtured, to step into the leading role.

African American Women Who Successfully Took the Reign of a Family Business

In its article “Fathers and Daughters, Passing on the Family Business,” Business Week reports that nearly 80 percent of global businesses are family owned. More of these businesses are handing the top spot to daughters. Two African American women who inherited family businesses are Linda Johnson-Rice (Johnson Publishing Company) and Velma Louise Gaines-Hamock (Hamock Funeral Home owner).

Daughter of John H. and Eunice Johnson, Linda, born in 1958, took over the helm at Johnson Publishing Company in 2002. Prior to that, she worked as an Ebony magazine fashion editor. Later Johnson-Rice worked as vice president; today she serves as chief operating officer and president of Johnson Publishing Company. When she took the helm in 2002 she became the first African American woman CEO at a top national African American owned company.

Velma Louise Gaines-Hamock, born in 1910, inherited Hamock Funeral Home from her late husband. She not only operated a successful business, she went on to become the first African American woman Colonel in Kentucky. These and other African American daughters serve as proof that handing the leadership of family owned businesses to daughters is a good business move.

How to Prepare Daughters to Take Over Family Owned Businesses

To prepare daughters to take over family owned businesses, parents can:

  • Teach daughters how to save and invest money at early ages. For example, parents can open investment accounts for their daughters and allow them to start making decisions regarding trades, etc.
  • Enroll daughters in business courses at progressive high schools.
  • Encourage daughters to join them at business meetings and other company related client events.
  • Offer daughters opportunities to work both within and outside the family business. Let them decide whether or not they really want to work at the family business. After all, it’s important that successors have a genuine interest and passion for the business.
  • Allow daughters the chance to manage small business enterprises starting at early ages. For example, daughters can open their own online t-shirt, cap or handbag store. They can also operate and manage neighborhood newspaper or food stands.
  • Share stories with daughters about other women who inherited and successfully managed family businesses or who started and managed their own companies.

Envisioning daughters as heirs to manage family businesses has rewards. In today’s changing job market, women are proving that they are as committed to growing their careers as men are. Families with two or more daughters can option to designate daughters as joint-owners of businesses. They can also assign the daughter with the greatest leadership acumen and drive to lead the company and position other daughters in more junior roles on the senior management team.

Rhonda Campbell, an East Coast journalist, is the owner of Off The Shelf radio and publisher of Long Walk Up and the forthcoming Love Pour Over Me.

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  • MixedUpInVegas

    I agree with Women Are Gamechangers.  Women have a different style in business, but it can be just as effective as the male model.  When I was in business school, I remember thinking while taking management classes that if I ever got the chance, I’d use those same principles in very different ways.

    Women who are fortunate enough to work in a family business and have hands-on mentoring are getting an enviable head start in the business world.  Women have natural business abilities that they are unaware of.  My husbnd and I own an small business; while you have to work hard, it can be very rewarding.  Dang, you have to work hard anyway, why not do it for yourself??

  • http://www.womenaregamechangers.com/ WomenAreGamechangers

    I think these two ladies are wonderful examples that women can run successful businesses that was once run by a man. Women are definitely more apt to take over. We just have a different style but we get the work done.

  • L-Boogie

    I love this article!  With a good work ethic and the ability to be flexible can teach one a lot about business. 

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