There are any number of German firms which are family companies, amongst them household names including BMW and Aldi.  

The prevalence of family firms is common elsewhere in the world including Italy and various Gulf countries.

It's all the more important these families know how to handle succession, particularly from first to second generation, and to deal with the inevitable disputes.

The combination of money, blood and entitlement can be toxic, although without a family dispute, we might not have Adidas and Puma.

In order to avoid messy disputes and business failure, it's important to:

  1. Agree a clear succession plan which is regularly reviewed and where younger members of the family receive appropriate support, guidance and experience
  2. Have a code of conduct which includes how to deal with disputes, ideally before they explode
  3. Develop a process where members of the family meet not to discuss the business, but their relationships
  4. Agree corporate, family and individual objectives, realising they will change over time.  This is likely to be complicated at best, but is worth the effort