Family Business –three pointers to help address the family business conundrum.

Family Business –three-pointers to help address the family business conundrum.

Throughout the world, family businesses dominate the business landscape whether they are small agile start-ups or massive multi-national corporates. Some of the most successful and enduring businesses internationally are family businesses – or at least originated as such.

The landscape of family business is however often a challenging one to walk through since both personal and business relationships are intertwined. All the more reason to get it right from the beginning – too many family businesses (the ones we do not often know about) have faltered not only taking economic value down but also damaging family relationships.

What to do about this?  Here are some pointers for family business governance.

  • Have the difficult conversations early on! Understanding that a business relationship within a family can affect all the family relationships and that difficult issues left unaddressed can grow into something it is not.
  • Unpack any assumptions – make them very clear and commonly understood – and that when these things (and the difficult things above) are communicated to other parties (especially other family members) everyone communicates the same message.
  • While the dynamics of family discussions about the business will ‘invade’ other family discussions ensure that there is some separation between business and family. Perhaps the most important element here is to ensure that the business decision making takes place in the businesses/in the right business forum and not just around the dining room table.

Key at all times, in any business but perhaps most important in family business, is to keep the lines of communication clear and open. Guard the relationships by doing things right and both the family and the family business can flourish and prosper.

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