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Tips to help family business owners embrace their entrepreneurial spirit

Entrepreneurial spirit is one of the key drivers in a family business. Much of this spirit is comprised of self-motivation or inner drive and the need to follow a passion. Entrepreneurs are by nature innovative, creative, and risk takers. But, not all entrepreneurs are successful business owners.

It takes more than simply being a creative risk-taker to craft a successful family business. As a business owner and entrepreneur it is vital that you balance the needs of the family, the business and maintain your entrepreneurial drive and edge.

Here a list of do’s and don’ts that you can put into action to ensure the issues that can often arise with family business are not at odds with nourishing your entrepreneurial spirit.

Dos:

  • Maintain a sense of optimism and trust in your abilities to get the job done

Let’s face it running a family business is tough! Being able to believe that you have the necessary skills to complete key tasks is the backbone of self-confidence. Be a source of inspiration for family members and those who work around you, by trusting in your own abilities as an entrepreneur and being confident. Don’t let the pressure bring you down

A successful entrepreneur is known to be self-motivated and driven. They keep their eyes on the prize ahead of them; looking forward even when times get tough; being passionate about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Your inner drive is what allows you to attain your goals. And if you can share this passion with others, you can provide inspiration to those around you.

  • Foster innovation

Problems will arise. Do yourself a favour by thinking outside the box and fostering innovation in your family business.

Family businesses grow at their own pace, so are much more equipped to be innovative and take more risks than other organisations. Keep your actions focused on ensuring long term business success through developing a new product or a new way of delivering a service rather than just focusing on stakeholder returns in the short term.

It is well known that innovations often are developed in response to solving difficult challenges. So when the going gets tough, it’s time to innovate! The unique family business dynamic enables quick decision making when opportunities present themselves.

  • Develop your leadership role

Learn how to maintain a sense of self discipline, modelling ways to work effectively and efficiently. Become an influencer within your family business that is approachable for others to seek advice and encouragement.

As the leader, take the time to ensure your family business is always focussed on their vision and making positive steps to achieve their goals.

  • Hone your communication skills & listen to reason

Communication is imperative – all families are different so there is no set model to follow, but you do need to have open lines of communication within the business. While you are the entrepreneur with the passion and the ideas, it does pay to listen to reason.

Always maintain high standards when it comes to communicating with others. Effective professionals speak well and articulate a clear message. But, effective communication also involves highly trained listening skills. This spirit embraces enthusiasm and optimism which is often translated through your daily communication behaviours.

Take the time to listen to family members who may share with you their ideas on how to carefully plan and execute the implementation of the business newest ideas and offerings.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t cut corners

When working with family, there’s often the tendency to slack off a little. You may think your family will be more forgiving, but family members are often more critical of each other.

Don’t be tempted to cut corners as you will only be doing damage to your business in the long run. What may save a little time now could end up costing you more in lost time in the future.

  • Bring family disputes to the workplace

This sounds like a family business cliché however; first and foremost it is vital that you keep your personal and professional lives separate wherever possible. Agree ahead of time to keep any personal problems out of the business as much as possible.

Running a business creates enough drama that you don’t need to add to it with a family drama. The dynamic of a professional relationship is very different to that of a personal relationship and for good reason. The decisions you make at work should relate directly to your business outcomes only; just as your decisions at home should relate only to your personal life. Avoid blurring the lines to make sure you are getting the best of both worlds, separately.

  • Fail to prepare the next generation

 Encourage the next generation to continue their education, attend university or learn a trade. Several years working in another business can also help the next generation gain new knowledge and confidence in themselves as well as learn business essentials (such as how to read financials). Mentoring the next generation is also important so that they understand and respect their parent’s values. If this is done well, staff will also respect and support the successor.

Have a succession plan in place and also consider who has the right skills to take over the reins in the future. Remember, to ensure business longevity it can sometimes be worthwhile considering individuals outside the family to help take the business forward.

Implementing just some of these tips will ensure your family business continues to run smoothly and prosper, whilst helping you free up your time to embrace your entrepreneurial spirit.

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About the Author:

Kirsten Taylor-Martin, Client Director, business advisory division Bentleys Sydney, is a chartered accountant with over 20 years’ experience working with family-run businesses, high-net-worth individuals, doctors and property developers.

 

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