Our new shared reality has shaken up a lot of things in everyone’s world, and many of the negatives remain at the forefront.
Being a “glass half-full” kind of guy, I’m always on the lookout for the bright side of things.
So, with that in mind, here are 5 “silver linings” for family businesses that could come out of this pandemic, for those families that are ready, willing, and able to take advantage of them.
Reflect on, and Learn from, Previous Challenges
Any family business that has survived to include more than one generation has probably gone through some sort of crisis before.
The younger family members may not have been around or old enough to understand everything then, so this is a great time to bring them up to speed with the lessons about the historical resilience of the family and its business.
Knowing that the family has held together before, and reflecting on what strengths that required, will help everyone as they look forward together.
Co-Create the Pivot
This crisis is creating an opportunity for different generations to work together and co-create the changes that will bring the enterprise forward for the coming decades.
A family with younger members involved in the business has the chance to bring in newer, fresher ideas, that can be led by younger members with more energy, more tech-savvy, and a longer view into the future.
By combining these strengths with the wisdom and patience of their parents’ generation, they can co-create whatever pivot they need to, to adapt to the new realities of the world.
Diversity is an asset, and being able to harness the best of all their human capital is something that many business families are particularly good at doing.
Bolster the Family Brand
Since this crisis began, there have been so many examples of family businesses doing the right things for the right reasons.
Especially in smaller communities, the long term support that this creates for the family brand should last a while. While this isn’t the reason to do any of these things, it can be a nice side effect.
Family companies need to find subtle and balanced ways of getting the message out there about their efforts for the common good, and in the long run they will be rewarded by customer loyalty.
Surrender the Baton (Or at Least Part of It)
Many families put off serious discussions about the future and who will become future leaders as one generation eventually steps aside and another takes the lead. It’s what many call “continuity planning”.
Given what’s been going on recently, the current leadership may get a jump on, or at least have some more reasons to consider, moving towards their next life chapter, knowing that things are in good hands.
Crises create opportunities for new leaders to step up, which may be just what the current generation was hoping for.
Someone who has taken on the hard choices you’ve all been facing recently just may be catching the eye of a leader who has been waiting for the opportunity to begin backing away, and surrendering some of the roles to them.
Many advisors are advocating for this quite strongly, for a great example, see The Next Generation Should Get Their Licence to Operate Now
Re-Emphasize Family Governance
As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago in The Crisis as a Test of your Family Governance, many families have recently realized that things were not set up exactly as they had assumed and imagined.
So, the family’s governance systems and structures may have been tested in the past couple of months. What better time than now to revisit and re-invigorate efforts in this direction?
Might it be a time for the current business leadership to shift their focus from working IN the family business to working ON the business family?
Plenty of Clouds, Even More Silver Linings
There’s no question that everyone’s lives have been affected, mostly for the worse.
But, for the families that are little bit more forward-looking, there are many opportunities that just suddenly landed on our proverbial doorsteps.
What does it take to seize them?
Well, important things don’t typically just happen by themselves, not even in the best of times.
I believe that the key lies in the family’s ability to tap into all of its human capital, from every generation.
That all starts with a family meeting to discuss all of this, and if it has to be done over Zoom, that’s OK too.