Skip to Main Content

Improving Small Family Business Success

Family businesses often function without a net. They work by default, as processes and procedures handed down through generations are implemented without consideration of their long-term efficacy. As a result, when difficulties strike many family businesses are unprepared to activate contingency plans.

Agricultural Economics Professor Maria Marshall leads the Purdue Initiative for Family Firms (PIFF), which helps family businesses by approaching their practices holistically. PIFF offers these businesses research-based business management resources that improve leadership and drive growth. The initiative’s goal is to help build stewardship among all business stakeholders.

Marshall discusses options with family farmers

The initiative, which began in 2016, focuses on four key issues:

  • Estate and Personal Financial Planning
  • Strategic Business Planning
  • Maintaining Family Bonds
  • Leadership and Succession Planning

“Family businesses often struggle with common issues, including family communication and bonds, separating estate and personal finance for succession planning, and disaster recovery,” said Marshall. “We help these family businesses by providing them with tools to maximize their resources.”

The initiative grew out of the work being done at the university to help family businesses overcome these common pitfalls. PIFF has received two consecutive grants from the USDA to further its efforts.

Disaster recovery is an issue from which many small businesses struggle to rebound. These include weather-related issues like hurricanes and tornadoes, as well as significant regulatory policy changes that have major effects on output.

The interplay of resources among a family and its businesses is of growing interest. Centers exist nationwide that spotlight these concerns. For PIFF, the focus remains on Indiana and the Midwest. The initiative’s first newsletter was released in February 2017, which led to a jump in subscriptions on the website. Interactivity is encouraged by the group through the website’s question of the month, the results of which are posted in the newsletter.

Marshall sees a great opportunity to strengthen the multi-generational longevity of family businesses.

Featured Stories

Purdue campus
Purdue University Board of Trustees appoint Johnson to crop sciences endowed chair

The Purdue University Board of Trustees has approved the appointment of William Johnson,...

Read More
Testing strip in a field
Paper-based biosensor offers fast, easy detection of fecal contamination on produce farms

Paper-based biosensor offers fast, easy detection of fecal contamination on produce farms. Purdue...

Read More
Student stands between yellow machinery holding laptop while smiling at the camera
Purdue Agricultural and Biological Engineering Graduate Program ranked first in U.S.

Purdue University’s Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) Graduate Program is...

Read More
Shopping cart in store
Consumers see food prices as rising more than other goods and services, find ways to adapt

More than 80% of consumers perceive that food prices have increased a little or a lot over the...

Read More
Chris Wirth holding bug specimen
Behind the Research: Chris Wirth

Many people are involved in the remarkable range of programs, services and facilities that...

Read More
Purdue College of Agriculture.
Farmer sentiment recovers in May; interest in solar leasing rising

U.S. farmers’ outlook improved in May as the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy...

Read More
To Top