‘You won’t get anywhere without an education!’
It’s catchphrase countless parents have used over time and rightly so. But when it comes to your own family business, do you apply the same line of thinking? In this post, we explore some key ways family business education can enrich your working life and family.
Pause and reflect
It’s very easy to get caught up in the everyday running of your business. But Dr Ivan Lansberg, a global family business expert, says hitting the pause button is the best way to begin your education journey.
“Families very seldom pause … to look at the total picture of what they are doing. For education to occur, you have to reflect. Just simple things, like how are you running your board? How are you developing your next generation? How are you addressing the complex issues of ownership? It sounds simple but in fact, families do not do it.”
Addressing the 3 P’s in family business education
Upon reflection, it’s likely you’ll discover you’d benefit from education in one (or more) of these three areas: processes, problems and people.
It’s vital everyone in your family business understands all businesses processes and activities. Education can help here. It might be through inductions or site visits or you might opt for a more formal pathway, using an advisor to help you structure learning. Patricia Ghany, CFO at Esau Oilfield Supplies Co. says:
“Education has given me a different perspective of how to professionalise our family business activities. It’s taught us how to better engage in emotionally charged conversations about succession planning, share distribution and the role of outside directors.”
People and family are at the heart of every family business. Putting time and money into developing the education of the family group will bring you rewards tenfold. Many businesses choose to focus on team work and leadership training but education on matters of family governance, the family history and vision, managing the family wealth and decision-making are critical for the sustainability of the business. There’s lots of education options here from informal get-togethers to using external consultant, online education or attending workshops.
Every family business hits a pothole or two along its road. When you do, networking with other family businesses (a great form of education) can help. Corrina Wright, sixth-generation member of the Oliver winemaking family in McLaren Vale knows this well.
“We have been members of Family Business Australia for many years. Their conferences and real life stories - both good and bad - have been key for us in understanding how to professionalise our business and how to avoid pitfalls.”