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Edition 79 – But for Laziness

The owners and managers of family businesses are interesting people. When they first step into business, they’re entrepreneurial, enthusiastic and energetic. The learning curve is steep and with perseverance comes success.

As the years go by, those same entrepreneurial family business types settle into a routine. They know how to make a widget or look after a customer. So, for the most part, they do the same thing, every day. It starts to become a bit “humdrum”. Is that because we become bored or we’re just lazy creatures?

My question for you today is, but for laziness, what would you have moved on from in your family business? What are you holding onto that no longer serves you or your family business? What are you doing today that is potentially holding you back from a completely different tomorrow?

In my almost 30 years of working with family businesses, here are some of the areas that I have observed that hold family businesses back.

  1. People – family business owners feel they need to do everything to hold onto long term staff, even to the point of retaining completely dysfunctional people on their payroll. But for laziness, you might find new staff with fresh ideas and an energetic approach to your business.
  2. Clients – long term client relationships are great. There is familiarity amongst each party in the relationship and an expectation of each other. From time to time, the expectation is unspoken. But for laziness, you might find new clients more profitable, more fun to work with and more suitable to the type of client you really want to be working with.
  3. Systems – owners of family businesses in particular are fond of holding onto the systems they developed eons ago. But for laziness, drilling down on your processes may well generate efficiency gains far and beyond what the owner alone could introduce.
  4. Product – much like their processes, family business owners treat their business product like a baby. Except babies grow up. But for laziness, what could that product turn into – or be threatened by? What new products should you be thinking about rather than merely tinkering with the old one?

So, how do you step out of the zone of laziness. Essentially there are four steps.

  1. Time – you need to make the time to stop, take stock, throw everything up in the air and look at everything you do in your family business at least annually.
  2. Outside direction – you can’t do this on your own. You need someone from outside your business that challenges you and holds the mirror up to you. You will never ask yourself the hard question that you don’t know how to answer.
  3. Willingness to accept change – once you’ve considered what needs to change, you have to be willing to embrace the change. Plenty of family businesses have corporate retreats that end in a list of actions that are never implemented. FTI (Failure to Implement) takes over – mainly because it is too hard to change – or too easy to retain the status quo.
  4. Ability to implement change – if you are willing to change, you then need to be able to implement it. You need to invest resources in people, product development and process improvement if you want your family business to evolve. And, interestingly, where we started is where we end up – it requires the most precious commodity, time, to ensure the process is implemented and change is successful.

This Week’s Tip

But for laziness, what are the areas in your business that you could tweak that might create significant positive benefits?