The Evolution Over a Decade

It was ten years ago, during the time I was completing the Family Enterprise Advisor program in 2013, that I first had my true calling to work in this fascinating field.

When I entered the program, I assumed that the key work to be done was all in the “business circle”, where family businesses have been traditionally well served by the existing fields of professionals who work with all sorts of businesses (family or otherwise).

As I learned about the Three Circle Model (and wrote about then in Three Circles + Seven Sectors = One A-Ha Moment) I quickly recognized not only that the “family circle” existed, but also the fact that it is typically as underserved as it is important.

I also realized that my natural abilities are best suited to serve the family relationship area, despite all my education until then having been geared towards business circle challenges.

Sharing My New Calling Back Then

As I tried to comprehend my newfound calling and what it would mean to finding the type of clients who actually have a need for be served in these areas, I found myself trying to explain the challenges that families face, which while related to the business circle, are actually quite distinct from them.

I recall someone mentioning that there was a lot of demand for such guidance for families, because of the prevalence of family enterprises in the economy.

I initially agreed with those who noted the demand for what I was speaking about, before eventually realizing that the word “demand” was poorly chosen to describe the reality of the situation.

I think what my friend was trying to point out was a huge need for help in these areas, which existed then and still does today.

The problem for people like me is that while the need is huge, the demand is actually quite low.

Turning Need into Demand

One of my overarching challenges for this past decade has been trying to find ways to turn that need that families have to find resources and guidance to overcome the challenges they face into demand for such services.

How does one turn a need into a demand?

I recall a story about IBM way back when, who came up with a computer so powerful that they expected would have little demand, because it was difficult to conceive of what anyone could use that much computing power for in those days.

I daresay that every person in the western world now probably has several devices they use daily that are more powerful than the machine they were talking about decades ago.

The Education Aspects

One aspect that certainly comes into play is education, and it can be looked at in a few different ways.

Of course one part is to make families aware of what they could be (and should be) working on to increase the odds of success in their favour, as they try to find the best path to transition their businesses and wealth to the next generation of their family.

Sharing examples of families who have been “early adopters” of some of these avant-garde methods, and thereby educating these families around what has worked elsewhere is a big part of that.

Instead of having professionals use scare tactics by pointing out well known failures, and thereby providing “solutions” that solve for some simple aspect of those failures, we’ve seen more modeling of what successful families have done.

The other major education angle lies in having professional experts trained to serve such families, based on those positive models of families who have done this well.

Growing the Supply

The supply of experts who serve families needing support in the family circle continues to grow, seemingly at a faster pace than ever, and that’s a good thing.

The need is still greater than the demand, but at least the supply is ramping up as more and more demand is being expressed.

As I wrote last year in From Multi-Disciplinary Field to Interdisciplinary Ecosystem in many ways I’m jealous of those now entering the space because of the progress we’ve all been making over the past decade.

Everything continues to evolve of course, and there is no finish line either.

Most families will need support and resources at some point on their journey, and the opportunity to accompany them on this complex ride can be very rewarding for many.