Family Businesses at their Best
In my last article, I warned about the dangers of ignoring and abetting the red flags in family owned businesses and the natural confusion the dual role family members play both in the family and business ecosystem.
In today’s article, I will cite family businesses at their best and how they continue to remain resilient after overcoming generational challenges and family conflict.
The strengths of a family business are plentiful. In terms of organizational metrics, family owned businesses outperform non-family owned companies in sales, profit, and other growth measures by a mile. Some of the inherent characteristics unique to family members are their high commitment as business owners, their willingness to work long hours and their natural instinct to reinvest profits into the business that will enable long term growth.
Indeed, family businesses provide a good opportunity for wealth creation and the secret lies in a well-structured governance system that promotes harmony, improves communication and promotes accountability.
The reality is this, as the family and business become more complex, effective governance structures increases. Unfortunately, as the business leader continues to generate wealth for the business, governance and succession takes a back seat.
So when a major event or risk happens (Illness/death of key family figure, major fight among siblings, among generations) the business goes into a free fall. For some businesses that I have helped, it can be a daunting task to reverse the tide. For a handful, it has become irreversible.
To quote the 8th generation successor of the Philippine’s oldest conglomerate, Jaime Zobel de Ayala, when asked how they have managed to survived two world wars and still came out stronger, he said:
“Ensuring the continuity of a multi-generational business is not easy. It is a challenge in itself to run a business successfully, while family dynamics and relations can often be very complex. Each generation introduces new challenges. No family leader can plan beyond one or two generations, but if each one values continuity and the legacy that has been passed on, they will always look for ways to strengthen the foundations for the next generation.”
Without any question, the Ayala model of governance is something every family enterprise must strive to emulate. They have stayed the course and relentlessly pursued governance through the years.