Family Business for Next Generation Leaders

by Barb Quinn | Jul 1, 2024 | Family Dynamics

This book is directly aimed at next generation leaders in small to mid-sized family business. The stories take place across India and across many sectors from wellness/Ayurvedic business, to hospitality, steel-making, the food and beverage industry, spices, electronics and manufacturing.

It is an easy read with helpful ideas that show how universal the challenges of family business are around the globe. This book doesn’t present radical ideas but it does reinforce many of the core issues the next generation faces in entering the family business.

Here are a few of the critical ideas:

  • Family conflict makes most family-owned businesses fail; not conflict over ideas such as marketing and capital investment but personal and relationship conflict
  • Families who practice strong values and insist on them have a higher track record of success
  • The use of outside experts and advisors is highly recommended especially to help define the future and not just rely on the past
  • Family business owners are not short of good ideas and inspiration but as the business evolves, they are generally not as good at dealing with performance management issues and ensuring there is a strong governance structure in place : both for family and for corporate governance
  • Having a family business constitution is one way to insert good family governance and ensuring that expectations are clear for family members who work and who don’t work in the family business
  • Family businesses also need corporate governance, something often overlooked which includes well laid out strategies and goals for the future
  • Matching skills to roles is not always disciplined; family members often join and are just assigned a role
  • Next Gen members often find resistance to their ideas for the future – outside experts can help frame this discussion
  • Treat the company as a company and the family as a family – clear boundaries and setting up different and separate meetings to deal with both elements
  • Make sure you are not operating in “fake harmony”, holding back for fear of making waves; help your family business to see conflict as constructive provided it is dealt with openly and transparently
  • Consider having a code of conduct for the family part and a code of conduct for the business part – most importantly make sure this code of conduct is actively practiced
  • A sore spot for many next gen members is being expected to be paid less than fair market wages; ensure that third party compensation studies are done to make fair market salaries a reality

Final advice and questions for next gen leaders include:

Do you really understand what the elders and first-generation members have to offer as learning and legacy?

Do you know your own blind spots? Are you realistic about your own skills and areas for development?

Are you able to practice being non-judgemental about other family members? It’s a practice worth developing so you can role model it and make a difference.

Do you have a good network of peers – other next gen members who can give you practical advice and validate what you are experiencing?

This book does illustrate some of the common challenges of family business and in some cases, provides concrete actions that can be taken. When it comes to navigating family conflicts and challenging relationships, it is somewhat light on what next gens can do that is within their control.

The author is a family business advisor and does make a good case for the use of external advisors to help navigate murky waters.

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Barb Quinn

Barb is a family business advisor and owner of 22c Partners Inc. who lives in beautiful Victoria, BC, Canada. A professionally published author, Barb has done extensive consulting with corporate clients but also has worked with the actress Goldie Hawn and her board as well as working for the Royal Family of a European country who has holdings in Canada. She is a certified board Director and helps family business understand how corporate governance can be a game-changer to instill professional disciplines and ensure that the family business operates with the best of practices. She also has an MA in Human Resources.

About the Author

Barb is a family business advisor and owner of 22c Partners Inc. who lives in beautiful Victoria, BC, Canada. A professionally published author, Barb has done extensive consulting with corporate clients but also has worked with the actress Goldie Hawn and her board as well as working for the Royal Family of a European country who has holdings in Canada. She is a certified board Director and helps family business understand how corporate governance can be a game-changer to instill professional disciplines and ensure that the family business operates with the best of practices. She also has an MA in Human Resources.