The family business conundrum

James Banham, Lovewell Blake

One (of many) issues that many family businesses face is that the strategy of the business has often been set by the older generation or was set in a previous generation. The result of this can be a general lack of buy in by senior management, missed opportunities for the business and a general drop in energies to drive the business forward.

So how do you ensure that the business has focus and buy in? The key is to create and maintain passion, enthusiasm and belief.

How is this achieved? By making sure that the business has clearly defined objectives and that if those objectives are met then all the owners/key people’s own objectives will also be met.  All too often people become controlled by their business, blindly following what was done before. They only spend time working in their business and never any time on their business. The best way to maintain passion, enthusiasm and belief is to ensure your business is fulfilling both your personal and business aspirations, and that includes all the family members regardless of age.

Businesses that grow successfully recognise that they do need to change and evolve. They take time out to ensure that they are moving in the direction that they want to go in, not missing out on any opportunities that may arise. Success is a process not a one off event, it is a journey, and you need to regularly review and check the route you are taking.  To be successful you must have belief and you must know what it is you are striving for, only then will you be able to generate commitment, passion, energy and the drive to see the vision through.

Strategic planning for family businesses is just as important as it is for owner managed businesses and is the key to success and fulfilment.

The three key questions:  Where are you now? Where do you want to go? And how are you going to get there?

Too often there is either no planning or insufficient planning, or a plan without a call for action. These businesses go off in different directions resulting in higher costs; frustration and taking longer to get to where they want to go, if indeed they ever get there. All businesses need the leadership that drives strategic thinking.

What is leadership? In order of priority and importance but not time commitment:

1. Strategic – A small amount of time, but essential
2. Management – Quality management time not administration
3. Operational – Important as long as the above are not neglected

Give your business the leadership passion and energy it deserves.

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