Book Review: Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business

Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business: How to Successfully Navigate Family Business Conflict and Transition

By Henry Hutcheson

196 pages

The big idea: Family businesses are often called the backbone of the American economy, but it’s also notoriously difficult to keep them alive. Transitions from one generation to the next have ruined many Thanksgiving dinners and sunk countless promising entrepreneurial ventures. Henry Hutcheson, who grew up in a family business himself, has authored a comprehensive guide to navigating the delicate balance between getting along with your family and getting along in business. He focuses particularly on the clash of egos that can make generational transitions so dangerous and offers advice to both sides on the best ways to prepare. (Hint: Start now!) In addition, Hutcheson explores ways to defuse conflicts over pay and influence between different family members.

Read it: Hutcheson can look back on a 25-year career of consulting with family business owners. The book offers countless helpful strategies, along with insightful case studies and suggestions for further reading.

Skip it: The book’s insightful content is almost defeated by poor editing and structuring. Even if you’re not bothered by grammatical inconsistencies or the occasional typo, you’ll frequently be puzzled by repeats of information from previous chapters. Chapters also tend to mix subjects that would have deserved their own sections, and advice for current owners is often thrown in with advice for aspiring ones. The titular “dirty little secrets” are sprinkled throughout as an afterthought, with no special formatting to make them stand out as key takeaways. CEO

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