“Have these people never heard of succession planning?” That’s one of the most nagging questions an owner of a family business will be asking all throughout the 13 episodes of the Netflix series “Bloodline.” The first season, released in its entirety on March 20, 2015, revolves around the days and weeks following the 45th Anniversary celebration of the hard-working and (on the surface, at least) beloved family’s Rayburn Resort located in Islamorado, Fla., in the Florida Keys about midway between Miami and Key West.

Such a description may suggest the show is in the mold of a cookie-cutter nighttime soap opera about a dysfunctional family, a retelling of “Dallas,” perhaps. However, despite an intentionally slow pace at the start of the season in order to flesh-out the characters, the show becomes a suspense-thriller that has more in common with the hospitality business of the family-owned Bates Motel in “Psycho” than with “Dallas.”

For the business-owning family member who watches it, the series is a no-holds-barred horror film. Nearly every negative cliché of family business operation and succession planning is explored with—well, to avoid spoilers, let’s just say, it may be a bit stressful to watch.

Following are just some of the lessons for how not to run a family business you’ll find in “Bloodline.”

1. Don’t use a family member to draw-up legal documents related to estate and succession planning.


dad and meg rayburn


“I thought he didn’t really mean it, so I never got him to sign it,” isn’t what they likely teach at the Florida State School of Law.

2. Don’t use succession planning to “make things right.”


danny and mom bloodline


Okay, so some major injustice occurred a long time ago. Let’s compartmentalize, OK? That’s an issue for professional therapists to address, not business decisions.

3. Don’t continuously use the phrase, “it’s all about the family.”


danny and john rayburn


Especially when what you really mean is, “it’s all about how crazy you are.”

4. Don’t convince yourself into thinking “helping run the business” is a job suited for the mysterious creepy sibling.


black sheep danny rayburn


If the oldest member of the “next generation” is a sinister-looking character who can’t hold a job, keeps disappearing suddenly for months or years, has drug or alcohol issues and is, in a word, a  creepy drug dealer, he or she is not the best candidate for the job of “helping mom run things” should something happen to dad.

The 150-Year History of the Term ‘Small Business’

Until the end of the 19th century, there were few big businesses so the history of the term “small business” is less than 150 years. Today, no other phrase comes close to describing companies up to 500 employees.