Who we work with:

Family-Owned Businesses

Every business faces its own set of challenges. Including yours. So, what is at stake if you don’t take action?

Over our 27 years in business, we’ve encountered every business problem. We found that, while the industries and their circumstances change, some commonalities and solutions apply to all businesses—even more so for family-owned businesses.

We focus on implementing Systems-Based Leadership, to empower owners and employees with the tools and structures needed for success.

Whether you’re a small business or a larger enterprise grappling with workforce challenges, our approach creates a workplace where everyone shares a common vision, takes responsibility for success, and takes action to make it happen.

Why Family-Owned Businesses?

Family-owned businesses are the heart and soul of “small and medium-sized businesses” (SMEs) in communities all across Canada. 

Family-owned businesses account for 63.1 percent of all private sector firms in all of Canada, and generate almost half of Canada’s real GDP in the private sector, $574.6 billion. They also employ 6.9 million people across the country—equivalent to 46.9 percent of private-sector employment.

Conference Board of Canada,  September 10, 2019

As a sector, family-owned businesses face unique sets of challenges that can impact their operations, growth, and planning for the future. 

Dear Business Owner,

Clearly, your business is important to the economy. But more importantly, your business is important to you. And we are here to help.



Family-Owned Businesses Typically face these challenges

Lack of Formalized Processes
Family businesses often lack formalized governance structures and processes that are common in non-family enterprises. This can lead to a lack of clear policies regarding decision-making, conflict
DCE's Systems-Based Leadership Can Help
Professionalism vs. Family Relationships
Balancing the needs of the family with the demands of the business can be challenging. Family members might be promoted to positions for which they are not qualified, leading to issues related to competence and professionalism.
DCE's Systems-Based Leadership Can Help
Family Conflicts
Conflicts within the family, whether they are personal or related to business decisions, can significantly impact the business. Disagreements over roles, responsibilities, and the direction of the company can create tension and disrupt the decision-making process.
DCE's Systems-Based Leadership Can Help
Transfer of Leadership
One of the most significant challenges is planning for the transfer of leadership and ownership from one generation to the next. Preparing for a smooth transition and choosing a suitable successor can be complicated by family dynamics and differing opinions among family members.
DCE's Systems-Based Leadership Can Help
Lack of Formalized Processes
Family businesses often lack formalized governance structures and processes that are common in non-family enterprises. This can lead to a lack of clear policies regarding decision-making, conflict
DCE's Systems-Based Leadership Can Help
Planning for Growth
Balancing the desire for growth and expansion with the family's risk tolerance and resources can be tricky. Lack of strategic planning and access to necessary resources can hinder the business's ability to compete and expand.
DCE's Systems-Based Leadership Can Help
Employee Relations
Non-family employees might perceive favouritism or experience challenges in the workplace due to family dynamics. Creating a fair and inclusive work environment can be difficult.
DCE's Systems-Based Leadership Can Help
Emotional Decision-Making
Emotional attachment to the business can cloud judgment when making critical decisions. Objectivity can be compromised, leading to decisions that might not be in the best interest of the business.
DCE's Systems-Based Leadership Can Help
Managing Change
Implementing changes in the business, whether they involve technology, processes, or market strategies, can be met with resistance from family members who are attached to traditional ways of doing things.
DCE's Systems-Based Leadership Can Help
Previous slide
Next slide

How we apply Systems Thinking to your business



Getting to the source of what is happening in the business.



Collaboratively re-engineering the business and culture for optimal performance.

Action Framework

Action Framework

Engaging the whole team as co-creators in a dynamic process of experiential learning and systems improvement.

Action Sprint

Action Sprint

Applying the new systems, processes, ways of being, and measuring results.

Why DCE's approach is so successful with family owned businesses

Our approach is finely tuned to the distinctive characteristics inherent in the structure and history of these businesses. We harness the unique nature of family enterprises to support their transformation into well-run organizations grounded in system-based leadership principles. 

We build on your:

Family businesses are small enough, typically fewer than 250 employees, to cultivate workplace environments of trust, transparency, and innovation. Cultural change, although possible, isn’t easy in organizations with thousands of employees.

It’s easier to dispel myths, and broad generalizations, and separate fact from fiction when talking about mom-and-pop businesses. Family businesses, the heartbeat of flourishing communities, are run by our neighbours. Problem-solving in every industry demands we get off the high horse of righteousness and get down to brass tacks–creating practical solutions with the people we work with. 

Family businesses are a force to be reckoned with, maybe not individually but collectively. They make up approximately 98 percent of employer businesses in Canada. Substantial enough in numbers to spark economic growth through innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. That’s powerful!

Decision-making is centralized, owners can choose to cultivate environments where creativity, innovation and people can thrive. There’s zero tolerance for bureaucracy and political grandstanding. Owners can’t tax their customers to offset poor decision-making. The buck literally stops with them. 

The stakes are high in business so there’s a bigger appetite for change. Profit is important but it’s not all about money. Important relationships break down when trust is lost. People grow apart, families become estranged. The longer the problem goes on the worse the situation gets. In order to stop the struggles from getting exponentially worse—family business owners can unlock trapped potential by implementing a balanced framework for Business Systems Design.

Relationships correlate in obvious ways. Family business owners have a vested interest in empowering their people to develop new skills, discover new possibilities and opportunities for action. When employee satisfaction and creativity goes up, business performance and profits increase. Thriving businesses sponsor youth sporting, donate to local charities, and volunteer as board members for not-for-profit organizations. Everyone wins when family businesses learn and grow stronger together.

Discovery Centre for Entrepreneurship:
thrive, grow and endure.


Take a moment to discover how our adaptive framework can empower your organization. Our systems-thinking analysis is designed to produce custom-tailored systems-based leadership models for your organization. The Possibility Process is dynamic, adapting to your unique challenges. It seamlessly integrates with a values-based vision, drawing on real-time feedback from both internal and external forces in the economy and your market. 

Curious if Sysyems-Based Leadership is right for you and your organization?

Take the Quiz

Just because you want a specific outcome for your life or business doesn’t mean you’re actually ready to make it happen in reality. We have a self-assessment quiz to find out if this kind of work is suited for you

Schedule a Call

We are happy to have a conversation learn a bit about you and what you are looking for. 

Click the button below to select an available time to meet on a Zoom call.

We use essential cookies to make our site work and to improve user experience and analyze website traffic. By clicking “Accept,” and/or continuing to use our website you agree to our website’s cookie use as described in our Privacy Policy.