It Pays To Stay, Family Business

Family-owned businesses drive much of the U.S. economy, but keeping those companies in the family for decades on end is difficult. Only 30% of family-owned businesses in the U.S. survive into the second generation, and the numbers dwindle dramatically in subsequent generations, according to the Small Business Administration. 

One problem is that family members, for a variety of reasons, choose not to join or to leave the business. As the leader of a fourth-generation family enterprise focusing on agriculture and real estate, Mike C. Young (, author of The Farmer’s Code: How Legacies Are Built, can speak to overcoming the challenges and inner conflicts of a family business, growing it over a long period, and the benefits of sticking with it. 

There was a time in college when Young was ready to bail on the family business. But developing a growth mindset that he acquired from his grandfather, father and uncle as they led the company was key to Young deciding to take the torch. His grandfather, dying of pancreatic cancer, convinced him. 

Sometimes, having a growth mindset means doing things that are out of your comfort zone,” Young says. “Growing up on a farm like I did was wonderful in so many ways, but I was the kid who hated getting dirty. I never particularly liked working on the ranch, and the idea of making a career as a farmer was out of my comfort zone.

“Grandpa was my hero, and when your hero says something, you just do it. 

It changed the course of my life. It gave me the chance to build and leave a legacy – one of the great benefits of leading a family business.”