How to Keep a Family Business Alive for Generations
Running a family business is a lot more confusing and trickier than running an enterprise that is inclusive of individuals who are not close-knit or related. The by-product of such a venture oscillates between amazing and terrible.
Family businesses that thrive, usually do so because the family agrees to draw a line between the enterprise and the bond that brings them together. Those that fail tend to do so due to an unhealthy mixture of the bond and the enterprise.
So, what does one do to keep the family business alive?
Dissect the emotional bond from the professional one.
Understand that there is no room or space for emotionality nor should your relationship, as family members, have any bearing on the way a business is run. What goes on in the business should stay (and be discussed) within the 4 walls of the enterprise.
Separate the roles.
Discuss and decide who’s going to be doing what for the business and how every individual will be contributing to the family business. It’s easy for family members to assign two roles to one person, due to the fact that the emotional bond always has a tendency to shadow the professional bond. Drawing a clear distinction by separating the roles will make things easier, less messy and the chances of the spill-over effect, whereby the enterprise and the emotional bond are confused by individuals and family members, is reduced.
Open communication and honesty.
All said and done, you ARE running a family enterprise which is why you need to be open with one another. If you feel that a decision made or an action, taken by the senior members of the enterprise, is not right or will not be fruitful in times to come, don’t hold on to your opinion. This could lead to the undesirable generation of a ‘grudge’ against the said person.
Decide to be open from the get-go and be open with one another. Exchange of ideas and opinions can actually prove to be more helpful than you’d think. This will also help establish that professional trust that every individual, in the business, needs to keep the business going.
Open the business to non-family members.
Some families prefer their businesses to be exclusive and so, they shut the doors on anyone who isn’t part of the family. The problem with this approach is that after a certain point, the progress comes to a halt becomes the family becomes set in its own ways. It tends to run the business in a set, particular, way fearing that changing the logistics, brand and dynamics will put the family business at risk.
Thus the business plateaus, various family members pump finances to keep the business running- until they can’t.
The solution is to open the doors to non-family members. Doing so will actually keep an interesting, professional, mix where everyone is focused on the growth, progression and benefit of the company rather than getting entangled in familial bonds and connections.
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