Lessons learned from decades working with family businesses

Picture of John Broons
John Broons

John Broons is a globally awarded family business expert. One of only three people in Australia to hold the coveted title of Fellow of Family Firm Institute (Boston, USA), John has dedicated his working career to answering the question: how do I guide and support families in business to a place where they’re thriving?

With decades of experience in the field of family business, I have had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the remarkable growth, resilience, and lasting legacy that can be achieved through generations of unwavering dedication.

Business discussions at a conference table in a family business
Embrace open communication

When you work with family, communication is the key to keeping the business running smoothly. Being open, honest, and direct with each other is crucial, even when it’s uncomfortable. Remember, you’re all in this together, and acknowledging and discussing differences will only strengthen your business and your bond as a family.

Plan for the long haul

Building a successful family business isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. It’s essential to have a long-term vision and develop a strategic plan that spans across generations. Embrace the idea of sustainable growth, preserving the essence of what makes your business special while adapting to the changing times. Planning for the long haul ensures a legacy that will continue to thrive for years to come.

Emphasise individual strengths

In a family business, each member brings a unique set of skills and talents to the table. Embrace and celebrate these individual strengths. By allowing each person to operate in their area of expertise, you’ll foster a sense of empowerment, engagement, and self-worth within your team. Remember, a good leader knows how to leverage the collective strengths of their family members to achieve greatness.

Continual learning and adaptation

In today’s fast-paced world, change is the only constant. Make a commitment to continually learn and adapt as a family business. Stay informed about industry trends, technological advancements, and new approaches to doing business. Be proactive in seeking out new ideas to keep your business ahead of the curve. The ability to adapt and innovate is what sets successful family businesses apart from the rest.

Balance work and family

One of the greatest gifts of a family business is the ability to work alongside the people you love. However, it’s crucial to find a balance between work and family life. Set boundaries and carve out quality time together that doesn’t revolve around business discussions. Nurture your personal relationships and create cherished memories outside of the office, ensuring a strong foundation for both your business and your family.

Running a family business is an incredible journey filled with its fair share of ups and downs, triumphs, and challenges. By embracing open communication, planning for the long term, emphasising individual strengths, continually learning and adapting, and finding a balance between work and family, you’re setting yourself up for enduring success.

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