May 19, 2020

How to Build a Resilient Family Business

Josh Gentine

Even without a constant influx of difficult news and a landscape that is uncertain, it isn’t easy to run a family business. During a global pandemic that is rewriting every rule in the book, it can feel like it’s impossible at times. No one has all the answers to navigating a business in a pandemic, but I do think one way we get through this is to focus on resilience. The good news is that family businesses are already more resilient than most. There are unique challenges they must overcome in a good economy, which better prepares them with the resilience necessary to succeed in challenging times.

A resilient family business possesses a few common traits. They are flexible, productive, and prepared for the unexpected, which secures their ability to withstand hard times. To ensure a family business’ long-term success now and for future generations, here are a few key considerations:

Be Flexible

History is not likely to repeat itself in the same way. Looking back on past experiences and relying on an old playbook to create a strategy for a current challenge will not work. Technology has likely improved, the people on your team and the skills they bring have shifted, and your customer base may have new needs. Being able to be flexible in organizational shifts and in products and services as well as relying on technology to provide much needed insights will be invaluable as you guide your organization.

Improve Productivity

In the best economy, productivity growth leads to providing more goods and services to customers at higher profits. During a crisis, productivity is critical for some businesses to simply survive. Not only will productivity lead to less expensive goods and services, it will lower operational costs. Lean in on your human resource leaders for guidance and consider how technology can help improve productivity.

Be Prepared

One of the most challenging issues to tackle for the family business is how to prepare for the unexpected. Can you fully prepare? Of course not; then it would not be unexpected. However, by being proactive, the impact of an unexpected event, downturn in the economy, or the next world pandemic will be less impactful to the organization as a whole. Learning to be a flexible, nimble organization and to maintain focus on productivity will help be prepared for the next challenging scenario. The foundation to preparedness though lies in decision rights and corporate governance. Having the structure established will help streamline decision-making and have processes in place to work swiftly for the benefit of the organization and its stakeholders. It is the bedrock of any preparedness strategy your organization has in place.

Working towards creating a more resilient family business requires leadership to take a close look at every aspect of the operation with a willingness to implement changes where needed. This is not an easy task. Don’t hesitate to reach out for guidance! I can help you build a resilient business that will thrive for generations to come.

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