How to make the most of a family business culture

When you find yourself in a business that likes to think of itself as a family it’s important to tap into the resources available to you, both during and after your time at the company. One person who knows a thing or two about this is ex-Virgin Digital Director Daniel Richards…

Unsurprisingly we were 'big' on family at Virgin. Family values permeated through the whole business so that we felt and acted like one very large family. But I hadn’t anticipated how these family ties would endure after I left.

Whilst at Virgin we all invested a lot of time in living out our family values. Bonds between staff were strong and on the flip side we positively encouraged family life at home through shared parental leave and many other benefits. There was certainly no nasty divorce or custody battle (ok, maybe for the Virgin embossed moleskin diary) when I left the business but still I wondered what life would be like without the support of my Virgin family?

It’s been over two months since I went full time on my start-up GardenTags (incidentally GardenTags is a family business too as co-founder David Scott is my partner’s brother!) I’m still in contact with my old work mates some of whom are giving me guidance on all things from market research through to human resources. But where I’m seeing the unexpected impact of family ties is with the extended network of Virgin alumni.

Having been on the inside I didn’t realise the extent to which there was a large family of Virgin alumni running their own thriving businesses on the outside. The family connection with them is proving invaluable to me in more ways than one.

For example, Catherine Salway founder of Redemption Bar and ex Virgin Group Brand Director is my go to for a heavy dose of entrepreneurial realism. She’s been successfully running her business for two years now and has helped me watch out for some of the bumps in the business road. Another Virgin alumni is Giovanni Donaldson, founder of recently launched SideStory and ex Virgin Corporate Development Director. Gio is a trusted advisor who is connecting us with many great people along the way.

From the outside looking back in: Five ways to get intrapreneurial

Fundamentally, what this all boils down to is trust. Businesses that have a shared set of family values engender a strong sense of trust much like any real life family. Where this really comes into it’s own is when you fly the nest and set out on your own.

Having a trusted business family you can call on is worth it’s weight in gold!

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Please see for more details.



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