Top 5 habits successful family enterprises have in common
Family businesses have consistently been some of the top performers in the country. Unlike public corporations, the leadership within a family business is personally and financially invested to lead the organization despite any pitfalls that may arise. They also share critical habits that have allowed both their businesses and families to remain strong enough to thrive for generations. Here are five common traits.
They don’t behave like islands
A key attribute of most successful family enterprises is the willingness to share their knowledge and experience with a like-minded business community. These business owners understand that it takes a village of experienced individuals to develop an economically and socially sustainable family enterprise.
But there is still hesitation among some business family members to embrace this community-minded approach, opting for the comfort of privacy. Instead, they choose to resolve struggles on their own, internalizing issues. This can be extremely isolating but over time may also lead to serious challenges for the family and the business.
When a business is family run, expectations and responsibility increase, given the need to ensure both the business and the family relationships remain sustainable. When families are not able to benefit from a supportive outside perspective, there is a tendency to continue bad habits, which leaves challenges unresolved.
The tide is shifting and there is a new wave of family business owners coming along: those that recognize the value gained from an external support network.
They get out there
The most effective way to develop these support networks is to join a professional association that caters to family enterprises and hosts targeted education, workshops and networking opportunities. These gatherings bring together individual business family members who are experiencing similar challenges and provide a roadmap that can lead to favourable outcomes. At a bare minimum, connecting with other families helps to resolve the feeling of isolation.
Bringing these people together in a comfortable environment, away from day-to-day interruptions, allows for dedicated time to focus on what matters most as a family and as a business.
They willingly share experiences
Connecting with peers who have shared experiences inevitably provide strategies that will bring the business to the next level.
Standard, technical business advice just doesn’t cut it in the realm of family business challenges. Many factors, emotional and otherwise, will affect decision-making on a regular basis. There is no one size fits all.
There is no substitute for experience, and successful owners know that in listening to their peers, insights are revealed on how to overcome challenges. These may then be adapted to their own business challenges or can uncover overlooked opportunities.
They’re selective about who they network with
Navigating through family relationships and expectations requires a level of emotional intelligence that is largely not addressed in standard business workshops or networking environments. Instead, successful family leaders gravitate to experts and advisors that provide knowledge and guidance within the context of operating a family business. This allows the family to build their own unique road map to success and leads to better outcomes.
Such groups should be based on the ability to respond to their business’s and family’s pain points. Are these people going through similar experiences? Can they support each other in a way that will lead to better outcomes for everyone involved?
In addition to conferences and events, family businesses should look for confidential peer-to-peer groups, ones with a structured agenda, providing all members with a forum to discuss issues, test scenarios, gather ideas and share stories.
They aren’t scared of awkward conversations
It is very common in business families to avoid difficult conversations. We have been seeing current owners benefitting from the value of shared wisdom, but in addition, we’ve experienced a recommitment from the next generation, who have a renewed interest in sustaining their family business. It is in their best interests to overcome difficult family discussions in order to move the business forward.
When siblings, children and other family members are brought into these challenging discussions and environments, it can help to ease transition to senior leadership roles and provide a sense of confidence stepping into other roles at the family firm.
• Bill Brushett, president and CEO of Family Enterprise Xchange, is an advocate for research and innovation around family enterprise. FEX holds interactive workshops that look past day-to-day distractions and acknowledge the human and relational aspects behind most complex family business issues.