The immigration debate rages on, as today a federal judge put Arizona’s immigration law on hold, therefore upholding the idea that illegal immigrants, or undocumented workers, depending on your leaning, have rights in the U.S, namely the right to enter our country on their own terms.

Again, I see this dynamic play out daily in the family business arena.  The solution to these problems is not demanding our rights, but understanding and living up to our responsibilities. 

A business owner has a responsibility to a lot of people – their family, managers, employees, employees’ families, customers, vendors, and the community. They have a stewardship responsibility, to do everything in their power to prepare the business for ongoing continuity of success, because there are a lot of people depending on it. They also have a responsibility to convey this message and mentality to their successors because when a business owner perceives that they have the right to abuse the business and use it solely for their own personal gain, it will not last.

There are plenty of examples of business owners abusing the business for their own personal gain in the businesses that have been swallowed up by our most recent economic downturn.  When a business owner is responsible for the business, he or she creates an environment that most of their children want to participate in. A lot of times for no other reason than to maintain the lifestyle to which they have grown accustomed to.  But, the business owner has a responsibility to make sure that their children earn their way into the business.

Upon entering the business, these potential successors also have responsibilities. They have a responsibility to understand the stewardship mindset and to enter the business the right way by earning their way in and viewing it as an opportunity not expecting it as a birthright. They have a responsibility to learn as much about the business and leadership as possible, work hard, earn respect, and develop a team-oriented outlook. When they come in displaying entitlement, trying to take the elevator to the executive suite when they’re not even qualified for a job, because they feel they have a right to it, their peers do not respect them. Their peers will not work for them or support them in their efforts to become successful; thereby undermining the success of the family business and the environment that was so attractive to them in the first place.

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