Business governance like steering a ship, has as its final goal a predetermined destination: the desired port. Business life demands a constant reflection on the future that we are seeking.
Where do we want to be in terms of market share, geographic location, products, financial stability, organization etc? The great majority of companies live in the short term, almost exclusively in the present, and the rest of businesses in the médium term, if visibility so permits them.
Paradoxically Family Businesses live between two worlds. On one hand, the strong individual involvement of family members in operations and management, mean they develop strengths and skills to live in the present, in a well-grounded way. This is the advantage of personal involvement. On the other hand, when it comes to passing the batton, the family must think in terms of the future. This is the generational advantage.
Whatever the case may be, successful family businesses are an excellent model when conceiving, choosing and shaping a taylor-made future. Some tips to learn to shape your family business future are:
• Promote participative processes of reflection, with the involvement of non-family managers, board members, shareholders, external advisors if neccesary, and of course family members.
• Shape a vivid and colourful idea of the desired future. Visions must be formulated concisely but strongly.
• Convince ourselves as a family of the importance of its execution, and acquire certainty that we can achieve it.
• Achieving unity among family members in thought and feeling.
In learning to conceive, choose and shape the future, family businesses must develop their own governance bodies, because committees, boards and shareholder assemblies are not close enough to the family members who will have to get involved and lead this future.
Furthermore, there are two important aspects to take into consideration. First, family businesses should not envisage a single business model, because often they act as a holding for various businesses or have the capacity to launch new businesses. Therefore, the vision must be broadened. Second, besides businesses, many families carry out wealth management and philanthropic activities, the vision of which corresponds to the family.
For these reasons, it is always advisable to have family meetings, family assemblies, or in those large families, representative “family councils” to provide a platform to work on the shared future or dream.
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