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Edition 228 – The Secret Tonic

In my 30 years of working with family businesses, I’ve observed the greatest impact on the success or failure of any family business is down to the business owner themselves.

If the business owner has these 5 characteristics right, then success will prevail. If they lack 1, success will be limited. If they lack all 5, failure will be the future of the business.

So, in what sounds like the tonic for business success, here are those 5 factors:

  1. Mindset.
  2. Beliefs.
  3. Willingness to listen.
  4. Desire for change.
  5. Strong family relationships.

If your mindset in business is that any challenge is exactly that – a challenge – then you are immediately starting from the wrong perspective. As the Great British Statesman and former Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill once quoted:

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.

I myself am of the belief that in a challenging situation, “out of adversity, comes opportunity”. If that mantra frames your mindset, you will always start any day from a different perspective.

If your beliefs are the same as they always have been, and you are rigid in that outlook, then they are merely self limiting. In order to grow as individuals and as family business owners, we need to listen to alternate opinions, consider alternate viewpoints and consider alternate futures. 

In recent years, I have challenged my own belief system in terms of drug laws. I’ve had a life long opposition to the decriminalisation of marijuana, having experienced first hand, how destructive it can be in a family situation. However, as medicinal marijuana was talked about in the media and in Parliament, I felt compelled to not only revisit my long held beliefs, but consider the issues of others and why they may use medicinal marijuana.

Willingness to Listen
The owners of family businesses are at the top of their own tree. Generally, there is no one they need to be accountable to.  Some would argue that is autonomy – others, that it is a dictatorship.

The family business owners that are willing to listen to advice from the close counsel around them – trusted advisors – respected colleagues – close family – are the ones that, in essence, surround themselves with a Council of Wisdom. As the owner, you may not agree with what is being said. However, if you remove any emotion on your part, are willing to listen to the merits of what is being said and are prepared to enter into a rational conversation, you may end up finding that the answers to your problems are not what you expected them to be.

Desire for Change
The desire for change is a key ingredient to business success for a simple reason – if you’re comfortable with where you’re at, you won’t change. If there is any degree of discomfort, be it financial, personal or business related, you will want to force change to move yourself from your current state to your ideal state. In the work I undertake with my family business clients, if there is little desire for change, there is often stagnation, and at times, deterioration, in their business circumstances.

Strong Family Relationships
Finally, and I have written about this previously, unless your family:

  1. Is supportive in your business endeavours.
  2. Backs you implicitly.
  3. Challenges you, but doesn’t doubt you.
  4. Counsels you out of love, not ideology or spite.

then your business will forever be seriously challenged. Without strong family relationships, you will not have the emotional support that you need, irrespective of how much money is behind you, or how much bravado you exhibit.

5 keys. All interwoven. The stronger they are, the stronger your degree of success.

In relation to each of the 5 keys, ask yourself, how does that apply in my own situation and what could I do to improve them?
Success in business is not akin to “full time” on the scoreboard – it’s an everlasting journey.