Entrepreneurship is an important ingredient for successful, multi-generational family business, because it drives balanced risk taking. Importantly, the taking of reasonable risk is required for family businesses to project themselves into the future (and we would contend, requiring an appropriate strategic planning framework to help guide all family members). It is not easy, as it requires a broad skill set across strategy setting, financial risk frameworks, sustained attitude of individual counselling and development, supportive yet objective feedback loops, effective understanding of business foundations, and a well-articulated entrepreneurial risk culture. There are many interdependencies, but families with businesses that can openly and deliberately embrace this have the ability to prosper into future generations.
It is common that successful family businesses place the founder’s feats and successes on an elevated pedestal. The stories abound with the successes and triumphs, often with the passage of time reach mythical status. Success over time though, is also normally couched in failures, mistakes and hard-won lessons which successful founders learn and adapt from. Celebrating a successful journey is of course important, but understanding and learning the entrepreneurial values that get you to arrive at effective understanding is critical to family business success and its continuity. These values and attributes cover determination, drive, balanced risk assessment, encouraging open communication of good and bad news, implementation excellence and measured/blame free trial-and-error.
Cameron Harrison operates a fifteen-factor framework to help assist families in business. Five of the advice factors in the framework inter-relate to how families with businesses can consider and potentially address entrepreneurship in the next generations. It is part of the course that family members may want to do something new, different or tangential to the family’s long-standing business.