In this issue
On May 3, 1965, an idealistic young engineer, Lakshminarayana Setty, dropped out of college against his father's wishes and opened a 200-square-foot store in Chennai, India. Named Vivek & Co., after the Hindu saint Swami Vivekananda, the store offered folding chairs and radios at affordable prices, provided job opportunities for the region's unemployed people and gained a reputation for its customer service.
One Monday in September I returned home from my shift at the pizza parlor, opened my mailbox—and found a surprise from the IRS. After wading through the legalese, I realized it was a notice that I, Joseph Mendello, owed a hefty sum of money to the government. Mamma Mia! I was mystified: What on earth had happened?
“I love these,” a fellow customer says, biting into a cranberry-studded muffin at a café I frequent. I smile and nod. “I drive from San Bruno to come here,” she adds. I wonder if others drive past the ubiquitous coffeehouse chain on their way here. Yes, there are places closer to my home and office, but I prefer this little café. Like many Americans, I'd rather patronize a small family enterprise than a large corporation.
But there are pitfalls.
Many business owners who have turned over management duties to younger family members expect to play a role as valued senior advisers. A large number among this group find themselves waiting in vain for requests for help.