Family Owned Business – A Competitve Advantage

February 17th marked the first installment of ABFI’s 2011 Author’s Breakfast Series. The chilly February morning brought Danny Miller and Isabelle Le Breton-Miller from Montreal to Edmonton to discuss the book they co-wrote, “Managing for the Long Run”. Isabelle did a wonderful job presenting key concepts from the book while a quieter Danny fielded questions that arose during the presentation.

Several key concepts from the book were presented that successfully portrayed family controlled businesses as positive and strong contributors to the economy. The concepts showed business families as exceptional champions of business ethics because they ensure their family values are present within their business models. Another interesting fact that Isabelle discussed was that over 50% of the world’s largest companies are family owned; a pretty amazing statistic!

Notably, Isabelle used a Grasshopper vs. Ant analogy to illuminate one of the book’s concepts. In this analogy the grasshopper is short-sighted and chasing a quarterly bonus; only looking to the bottom line. However, the ant works slowly guided by family values and a mission to build a foundation that enables future generations to thrive within the business.

I came out of the presentation with a better understanding of how family systems can positively impact the longevity of a business. Often when people think of family businesses they have the impression that they are all mom and pop shops with few organizational systems in place, making them unsophisticated or less educated. Through their book, “Managing for the Long Run” and their ABFI presentation, Danny and Isabelle showed that family controlled businesses do extraordinarily well despite their internal challenges. Business families have the ability to take their unique strengths and transform them into competitive advantages.

For more insight, check out their book on!

The ABFI Author’s Breakfast Series will continue on March 22nd in Edmonton and March 23rd in Calgary with author Franco Lombardo presenting, “The Money Motto”.

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