Navigating the Pitfalls of Running a Family Business

  • The Burnam Family

StorageMart President Cris Burnam knows all about running a family business; he was previously in charge of his family's own self-storage company  until 1999, when it was purchased by a competitor.  Not willing to be deterred, Cris rallied his family and together they launched StorageMart, their new self-storage company. This burgeoning venture has grown into nearly 150 stores across the U.S. and Canada, but that's not to say that there haven't been difficulties along the way. In his new guest article on, Cris highlights several focus areas to consider for an entrepreneur running a family business.

One of the most important aspects to running a family business successfully is the very first point on Cris' list: identifying strengths. In a culture where everyone aims to be a CEO, it can be especially difficult for family members to check their egos at the door and acknowledge that organizations profit most when an individual can put his or her best foot forward. Not everyone has the leadership qualities to be a CEO or President of a successful business. Vision is necessary to create a plan for the company's future. Charisma is crucial to inspiring your employees to follow you as you implement that plan. Foresight is needed to predict any wrinkles in that plan before they occur so as to mitigate the damage. When it comes to running a family business, the family itself must be successful at understanding each of their individual roles.

The last point Cris makes ties into that one perfectly: don't take work home. Just as you must know your role in the workplace, you must know that when you punch out at the end of the day, that person is not simply a fellow colleague or co-worker but your brother, cousin, or son. Separating your work life and home life is critical. This can go double if your family member is under-performing at work; if you're frustrated or carrying the burden of that, the last thing you want to do is allow it to spill over into your personal lives.

About Heather Gerling

Heather is the SEO Manager at StorageMart, and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration with honors from Lincoln University. She strongly believes you should never leave home without a book, and admits to having a coffee addiction.

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