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Edition 52 – D is for Direction

One of my biggest gripes about the owners of family business is that too many of them don’t know where they are going. They have no plan for where they are looking to take the business. They are wandering aimlessly in a world chock full of opportunity. They’re doing what they’re doing because it’s the way they’ve always done it.

If I was to summarise their day in business, it would be:

  1. Open up the front door.
  2. Turn on the lights.
  3. Power up the machines.
  4. Get on with the stuff that wasn’t finished yesterday.
  5. Deal with people on the phone – suppliers, clients and the bank.
  6. Manage at least one staff member issue throughout the day.
  7. Say hoo-roo to those same staff when they all knock off.
  8. Get on and do as much work in the next two hours once the staff are all gone as you managed to do all day whilst they were there.
  9. Power down the machines.
  10. Turn off the lights.
  11. Lock up the front door.

Tomorrow, it’s the same. Next week, same again. It’s like that movie “Groundhog Day”.

All because they’ve not stopped and thought about the direction their family business should be taking. In actual fact, they spend more time planning their next holiday than they do the business that will fund that holiday!

Direction is all about:

  1. Developing a strategy for where you are taking your business.
  2. Identifying areas of opportunity inside and outside your business.
  3. Taking the time to stop and identify potential threats to your business.
  4. Once developed, implementing the strategy with your staff, clients and other key stakeholders.
  5. Tweaking the strategy along the way – but generally sticking to it.
  6. Not derailing yourself from the strategy by chasing turkeys.

When I work with family businesses, my role is to challenge the family to see their business differently. My role is to help the family forge a direction for the business that achieves.

  1. The lifestyle the family are looking for.
  2. The building of wealth – for the current and next generation.
  3. The ability for the owners to do interesting work.
  4. A return to the owners that is at least commensurate with what they would be rewarded if they worked outside the business.
  5. The ability for the owners of the business to indulge in their other interests in life.

All of this through the means of a family business that is sustainable, forward thinking, easily adaptable and aware of what is happening in their world.

You wouldn’t turn up to the airport to start your holiday without a destination, a ticket, the right clothes packed or ID. Same applies for where you are taking your family business. Do you know where you are going?

This Week’s Tip

If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got. In today’s world, your customers, your people, your financing, your product or you yourself will change, which will force change on your family business. Be prepared to change.