Next Generation Family Business : Finding your feet

Next generation : the theory

Site visits to successful family businesses such as the one organised by the IFB to Roberts Bakery really show the benefits good family businesses can bring to business operations. In theory shared family culture and values should lead to a smooth transition of leadership from one generation to another.  However in reality family dynamics are as complicated as those found in business leadership.  Combining the two does not simplify the situation.

This week I delivered a session on next generation family business to a group of enthusiastic  Lancaster University Masters Students .   Their questions really reminded me how complex these family business dynamics are.

Celebrating when things go right

The students questions were still ringing in my ears when my eldest pointed out we didn’t celebrate success enough.  He is right.  Like many growing businesses we tend to focus on the potholes on our journey rather than the beauty spots we pass.  That’s why I have really enjoyed my role as chair of the judges for the brilliant Northwest Family Business Awards.  Visiting the finalists and gathering the thoughts of our fellow judges has reinforced my belief in the value of family businesses from across the North West.  A huge well done to Sue Howorth and Dave Clarkson of the Family Business Network for organising this.

Finding your feet

So we know that the transition of leadership to the next generation is complicated.  We also know that done well next generational family businesses add huge value to their place.  Just look at the family businesses running farming, hospitality, manufacturing, food production and cafes in your area.  They are all dedicated to their business and their place and at some point they may look to pass their business onto the next generation.

To do this the next generation really needs to find their feet.  Each new generational business leader may have different needs. These could include gaining the confidence to replace the previous generation as leader. Or creating time to think about the future direction of the business. It could be finding a source of reliable answers to questions they may have on how to manage the transition in family business. Then it could be learning how to communicate with the family and the business as roles are changed.  Importantly the next generation need a supportive network of peers who are experiencing the similar business journeys to themselves.  Possibly most importantly they need a place where they can develop their leadership skills that will ensure the sustainability of their family business.

Offer of support

If you are reading this as a next generation family business member and you would like support with any of the issues raised please check out the Next Generation Family Business Event on the 17th March in Liverpool.  We (Thomas Jardine & Co) are really proud to be delivering this in partnership with Be the Business and the Family Business Network.