Taking Your Family-Run Business Into The Next Generation

— March 23, 2018

Are you part of a family-run business that is looking for ways to make the company run more smoothly from day to day and right into the next generation?

In many cases, this will be a professional services firm where the founder of the company did a sterling job over many years building up the customer base. However, that charismatic individual is no longer able to do all the networking s/he used to and your order books are not looking as healthy as they once did.

Whether you’re the founder or the upcoming next generation, you’re worried about the future but there are so many things that need to be changed.

1. Your internal structure is not able to keep up with all the latest technology
2. Your people are not always the right person doing the right job which means they don’t understand all the latest technology.
3. Your systems and processes are becoming out of date and don’t integrate with all the latest technology.
4. Your customers have changed the way that they buy and are using all the latest technology.

Once you recognise and understand these 4 fundamental inhibitors, you need to formulate a plan for making the necessary changes to bring you into the 21st century.

And there are lots of places that you can go online and in the real world to get advice.

Internal and organisational structure

The Institute of Family Business has lots of articles on the financial structure of a family run business. The importance of shareholder structure and regular meetings plus the vital part to be played by succession planning. It is also a good idea to consult your business lawyer to ensure all your legal documentation is up to date.

EOS blog regularly about the organisational structure of your business, how to run successful meetings and ensure that you have the right people doing the right jobs. They can also help with understanding your systems and processes. I particularly loved this article on the top profit eaters for family-run businesses in 2018. Working with a business coach can also be invaluable here.

Right person, right seat

Programmes like Alex Polizzi’s The Fixer and The Hotel Inspector are a wealth of practical examples of how successful family-run businesses can derail themselves and ways to get back on track. Understanding your numbers, recognising where things are going wrong, having a proper plan to get out of your situation and managing your staff so everyone is pulling together. Again, employing a business coach can mean that you don’t have to do it on your own and have access to independent advice.

Helping customers to find and choose your business

Once you have sorted out your structure, personnel, systems and processes to support your sales processes, that’s when your marketing can kick in.

This is the area where family-run businesses can really struggle. Have you been the victim of a smooth talking SEO sales person who promised a magic bullet…? You are not alone. They make it sound so easy for you to reach your potential customers who are using the latest technology. And you’re busy working in the business and don’t realise how the results fail to match the sales pitch until you are some way in.

I spoke to one such company only last week. They had come for help with their marketing but told me they had very little to spend. When I helped them to audit what they were ACTUALLY spending on marketing, they realised that, for the last five years, they had been paying out over £2k per month on a website and some paid ads… but they insisted that no customers had come to them as a result. They were relying solely on their existing contracts.

Do the math – it’s really scary… 12 x 5 x £2000 = £120,000 with no return.


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Author: Jo Shaer

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