Because of the private nature of most family businesses, it is difficult to obtain accurate
information about them.  Complicating the situation is that most data sources do not
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distinguish between small family businesses, such as the local pizza parlor or deli, and large
family businesses, such as Walmart, Mars, and Ford. “The reality is that family-based operations
are represented across the full spectrum of American companies, from small businesses to large
corporations.”  Within this context, the following has been observed: 
• Family businesses account for a staggering 50 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
• Although it may seem that this GDP contribution comes from thousands of small operations, 35 percent
of the Fortune 500 companies are family companies.
• Family businesses account for 60 percent of US employment and 78 percent of the new jobs created.
• Family businesses represent one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy because their new job
requirements outpace their current employment rates when compared to other types of businesses.
What this means is that family businesses continue to be a powerful economic force, no matter
what their size and no matter how they are defined. “Family firms are the most common form of
business structure; they employ many millions of people; and they generate a considerable
amount of the world’s wealth.”