Multi-generational legacy: How to sustain family-owned businesses

Multi-generational legacy: How to sustain family-owned businesses

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By Ntando Ndlovu

THE overriding objective must be to create wealth that transcends generations not mere riches, the dream must be to plant roots way deep that they sustain a blossoming, all time growing family tree. Genette Gregson, CEO of All States Trailer Spares said, “A family business is a never-ending journey, one that is continually evolving. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on something, things change, and you have to adapt quickly and efficiently.”

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In building multi-generational family businesses that last and survive the kicks of time, it is important to craft clear visions that can be adopted by succession generations, create flexible structures and organisational culture that is versatile and adaptable. To future proof family businesses and sharpen their competitive edge, here are five ways of sustaining family businesses:

Communication

This is the lifeblood of every business of any shape and form, its importance determines the success or failure of the business. Family businesses are rife with quarrels and conflicts, constant stepping on toes, eye-lid poking and hair plucking and this has been the order of the day for Multi-generational family owned businesses such as Walmart, Samsung and Philips. Constant communication helps puts off the fires before much damage, it assists in creating conflict resolution mechanism and ensures coordination and that everyone stays on the loop. Timely Information dissemination is a welcome development in proactively ensuring well-coordinated effort.

Succession Strategies

Continuously implementing generational gap closing strategies will go a long way resolving conflicts in a business and passing the button to the wrong hands. Constant training by choice the future successors instead of arm twisting successors to work for the business is strategic enough to ensure safe continuity of the business. Succession planning is a day to day process not a remedy of damage that has already happened. The incumbent generation must be future focused and prepare hay while the sun still shines. Organisations that are proactive enough to implement succession strategies in their businesses are at an advantage of sustaining family businesses.

Inculcating Intrapreneurship Spirit

Successful family run businesses make constant innovation their buzz word. The creative conducive environments that encourage intrapreneurship which is constant innovation and creativity that sustains. The implements systems and avail resources and reward systems that empower creativity and coming up with new yet robust ideas that bolster the competitiveness of the business. In this dynamic business environment playing catch up will leave the business vulnerable, it is imperative that businesses become engines of innovation, they push the envelope and develop brands that outshines completion and sustains the business.

Incorporating Corporate Governance

SystemsManaging family businesses is no child play, conflicts are inevitable hence there is need to come up with good corporate governance systems that guide against such pitfalls that can cause detrimental failure for family businesses. There is need to come up with a family council that guides and leads the family business to the desires destination. There is also the need to maintain ethical business conducts and also involve a neutral external advisory board that gives a different perspectives and balance to the family business.

Inclusion of Non-Family Members

It is vital to include external blood in the business, dilute it with family blood this ensures balance and bringing new and fresh perspectives that ensure total alignment of business objectives.

Ntando Ndlovu is a Creative Business and Travel Media Personality. @ntando_zim

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