90% of small business is family-owned, yet 40% of those businesses are at jeopardy of failing at any given moment. Why are only 15% of these businesses worth more than 300 million? The idea that small businesses simply cannot keep up with large business is just not true. A small business can be successful and outlast a large business any day. Hillenmeyer Landscaping is an excellent example. They have survived, even in the hard times, since the Civil War – that was six generations ago for the Hillenmeyers.

So how does your small business learn from this family business?

Don’t Force Anyone to Work for You

At Hillenmeyer, every son has followed in the footsteps of his father, but they were never pushed or forced to do so. The same should go for you and your employees. If an employee no longer wishes to work for you, don’t try to force them to stay, even if they’re one of your best employees. In the same spirit, don’t think anyone will stick around just because you have good benefits and an excellent work-rewards program. Always be prepared for resignations so you can get right back on your feet if one happens.

Learn How to Deal with Angry Employees

The Hillenmeyers have not always been a perfect family; they've had many issues throughout the years. Sometimes a family member will join the team and then slack off, but will still want to be paid the same as a hardworking employee simply because they’re family. When they are denied that privilege, sometimes it will start a family dispute and things can get nasty.

You should be prepared for the same type of turmoil in your company. Drama happens – it’s part of life. Knowing that your employees are human is important. To encourage good feelings between everyone, plan lunches together so everyone can get to know one another on a personal level. Deal with employee issues quietly and discreetly to avoid employee embarrassment.

Don’t Abandon What You Stand For

The world changes, and your company usually changes to keep up with it. However, that doesn’t mean your principles should change. If your company believes in green product packaging, don’t abandon that practice just because there’s outside pressure to do so. If your company believes the customer is always right, then don’t leave that idea to rot when someone suggests you enact a new, tougher refund policy. Stick with your morals – potential customers will be watching for companies that don’t flipflop. The Hillenmeyer family believes in “integrity and honesty above all else,” and have for over a century.