How to get the best out of Family Businesses

Privately held family businesses have a lot of freedom to define success. Yet many founders and owners aren’t clear about exactly what they want their company to achieve, which leads to conflicting priorities and unclear decision making.

Ask yourself whether you are most interested in growth (maximising the financial value of the business), liquidity (generating cash flow for use outside of the business), or control (retaining decision-making authority). Achieving all three goals is difficult, if not impossible, so you’re better off focusing on one or two.

Think carefully about why you started the company and which of the three goals are most aligned with your current and future objectives. And don’t forget to revisit your choices as things change, whether they’re external factors like the economy or internal factors like a shift in senior management. What worked well in one environment can be a disaster in another.

Creating a clear plan using a top down bottom up approach whereby all stakeholders have an input and interest will create a shared vision. The key then is to get everyone to commit to the delivery of that vision. Every email you send, mike you drive, coffee you buy, meeting you attend, in fact every operating minute of every day must unpin and drive the vision. If it doesn’t, then don’t do it.

So start with the end in mind, develop a coherent plan and then galvanise the team to overachieve.

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