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Edition 103 – Heeding the Warnings

My family and I spent a few weeks over the Christmas break holidaying in the USA. We spent our last four days in Southern California right at the time of the horrific mudslides that, at the time of writing, had claimed 18 lives in and around the central coast city of Santa Barbara.

Whilst we were some 200km south of the devastation, we nonetheless experienced an emergency warning text message on the Tuesday afternoon to alert us to the fact that the weather was deteriorating and there was a potential danger.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, it has been borne out that some of the authorities in Santa Barbara issued similar warnings on the afternoon prior to the disaster. Except, and stupidly in my opinion, people came forward afterwards and admitted that they were warned, yet still decided to stay in their homes. Some of those people needed to be rescued simply because they chose not to listen to experts, not pick up on the warning signs and put themselves and their families in danger.

This same lack of heeding warnings is something that I see all too often in family business. Sometimes the warnings are issued by me – as I have the ability to see, from the outside, what some family business owners and managers can’t see from the inside.

Sometimes those warnings are issued by the bank. The overdraft limit has been breached too often or the level of profitability is too low to support the bank’s ongoing funding of loan facilities.

Sometimes those warnings are issued by other professionals. Not checking references prior to recruiting an employee might speed up the employment process. However, when it invariably goes pear-shaped, more often than not, a thorough reference check would have ruled out the candidate in the first place. More speed, less haste as the old proverb goes.

In my opinion, family business owners and managers don’t heed the warnings for one of three reasons:

  1. Their ego is too big to admit they might be wrong and/or need help.
  2. They’re too tight and unwilling to pay for robust and honest advice.
  3. They’ve failed to learn the lessons of the past warnings and have not modified their behaviour.

Whatever the reason, if you are not heeding the warnings of those around you, be they advisors or trusted colleagues, then what danger could you be placing your family business in? And, what does that mean in terms of the future of your family’s wellbeing?

This Weeks Tip

“Seeking advice is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. It is an acknowledgement that you don’t have all the answers, yet are willing to seek them out.”