When I am asked what it is that I do for a living my response can often be met with a slightly confused look. What does a family business consultant actually do, are you a business consultant for family owned businesses?
The answer is no to that question and I explain how what I do differs to the role of a business consultant in this blog.
What I then go onto explain is that I help to deliver clarity to business owning families. Clarity for them as individuals, clarity for them as a family and also clarity for the business. The purpose of this post is to highlight what I mean by this.
Listen to the Episode:
When you work in or own a business alongside your family it can be very easy to get caught up in the collective identity that comes from the business, particularly if you are a well known business in your community or the business uses the family name in its name.
But what about you? What about your hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations? Have you sat down and considered how your role within the family or the family business is impacting on your life?
If you own shares in the business but don’t work within the business, what is your role? What are your responsibilities? What are the risks and rewards available in return for that ownership?
How do you influence the board or management teams running the business and how does this align to what you are looking for in your role as owner of the business?
Gaining clarity on what ownership means to you and importantly how this aligns or otherwise to your own hopes and dreams is a vital step, in my view, to ensuring you are the best possible owner for that business.
If you work in the business, either as an owner or otherwise, how does that role contribute to you living a fulfilled life? Is your role causing stress or tension within your family? Is your role contributing or taking away from your well-being?
Exploring this and gaining clarity on it can provide renewed focus and energy for you to perform your role and get the most out of it, or perhaps help you to see that the role is not working for you and something needs to change, either way an extremely valuable outcome.
After all life is not a rehearsal, we get one shot at this and waiting until we are in later life to realise that we have unfulfilled ambitions can lead to regret. Listen to this episode of my podcast to hear the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, which do you want to avoid?
I wrote a blog called ‘Why are you in business together?‘ The reason that I wrote that post was not because I am challenging why families choose to be in business together, but rather that I believe having a thorough understanding of why you are in business together helps you to work better together to realise the potential of the business and the positive impact it can have on your lives.
The most common reaction to the question of “why are you in business together?” is “because we are”. Exploring this and gaining each others viewpoints on what ownership means to you can be a hugely rewarding experience as a family.
Looking at what you agree on, what values and behaviours you want to embed within the business and why these are important to you as a family can help you to agree on how to do this within the business. It can help you to understand how important your contribution is to the business, the families that you employ and the communities that you serve.
Understanding what you don’t agree on can help you to navigate and compromise on things that have the potential to cause conflict at a later date but address them before things get too hard.
Gaining clarity as a family as to why you own the business, what your vision and mission is for the business combined with clarity on your individuals roles, will have huge benefits to you as individuals, collectively as a family and also have a positive impact on the business.
I want you to imagine your business as a bus. As a family you have agreed where you want that bus to go, and you have agreed on what route to take and who is best to lead you to that destination.
You all board that bus with a clear strategy and plan to allow you to arrive at your destination broadly when and how you envisaged. There might be the occasional bump in the road or slight diversion but you are all happy on the bus knowing that you are clear on where you are heading.
You can talk as a family on the way, take in the scenery and enjoy the ride.
Now contrast this to everyone getting on the bus with their own ideas on where it is going, who should drive and which route to take.
Which is more likely to get to its destination?
Imagine being the driver of the second bus, how enjoyable is that journey going to be? If you are part of the family and the designated driver you might spend half the journey looking at the road ahead and half with your head turned round shouting at the passengers to stop arguing, stop making suggestions on short cuts, to stop telling you that you have gone the wrong way and that they should be driving.
If you are a passenger on the bus and it isn’t your family or your business, how enthusiastic are you going to be about the journey with all this bickering going on? You might decide to get off and catch another bus, one that knows where it is going!
Having clarity as a family and as individuals will help you to agree where you want the business to go and why. What that means to you as an individual and as a family.
It will help you decide who is best placed to fulfil the roles that are going to get you there and what support they need from you to help them get you to where you all want to be.
The benefits of clarity can be huge. But, gaining agreement from everyone in the family on where to go, how to get there and who drives can be difficult.
This is where my role as a family business consultant can help. I am an objective and independent third party. I listen to everyone within the family to gain an understanding of their views, their hopes and dreams and where they want to go on the bus.
I then help you to agree an overall destination, how to get there, what roles you each need to play and how best you can play them and I am then also there to help you with the bumps in the road or the diversions that will inevitably pop up along the way.
If you would like to discuss more about gaining clarity, be that as an individual, as a family or as a business, I would love to help. Click the link below and we can arrange a time to speak.