Family Ties Online: The Seven Truths of Family Business Success

Let’s say you have developed a plan for the future of your family-owned business. And let’s say that you have communicated the plan to members of the family. And let’s say that you now have long-range goals, measurable objectives, strategies and the road map to get there. Included will be the mission, vision and values of the organization and a way to assess success.

But plan outcomes are just thoughtful words on paper or in a computer file. Completing, adopting and communicating the plan is the beginning, not the end. Let’s get real and talk about success.

Let’s visit the Seven Truths that are really necessary to attain the outcomes and are generally not found in the plan.

Truth #1 – The Key Is Communication

When the plan is completed, its essence should be communicated to staff, suppliers and customers. Not just once, but over and over. Display the key points (values) throughout the organization. Add a values tagline that can appear on all electronic and printed material.

“When you care enough to send the very best” (Hallmark Cards); “When it absolutely has to be there overnight” (FedEx); “Just do it” (Nike) and “A family company” (SC Johnson) are each examples of the company’s values and how they wish to be perceived.

Truth # 2 Planning Is Not an Event – It’s a Process

Understanding the discipline of the planning process and recognizing that it is not an event, but a process will put your company on a path to improved results. It will help you to move the process down into the operations of your organization where implementation takes place. And the plan needs to be revisited regularly and modified when circumstances require it.

Truth # 3 – Survival Strategies and Differentiation

Today, planning has transitioned from a process of trying to focus just on the future to one which includes an examination of “what’s worked” in the past and how to apply those successes to the current realities as the world economy continues to shift.

Truth # 4 – A Major Truth

Your goal is to build survival and growth strategies using lessons learned while striving to develop building blocks of differentiation, which set you apart based on the realities of today.

Truth # 5 – The Four Questions

At a minimum, in order for strategic planning to yield the competitive advantage of success, it must address four questions:

  • 1. Why do business with us?
  • 2. Who are our customers?
  • 3. What products and services do we offer that set us apart?
  • 4. What don’t we do that we must do to win?

Truth # 6 – Contingency Planning

Something unexpected will happen. Identify the most likely unexpected events (fire, weather, finance) and identify a strategy for each.

Ask yourself and each of those who participated in the formulation of your plan these questions every time the plan is discussed.

  • 1. What must we change to assure success with our plan?
  • 2. What does success look like?
  • 3. How shall we deal with the unexpected?

Truth # 7 – Communicate That You Are “A Family Business”

When the communication of your plan is clear, consistent and persuasive, you have made a significant step toward the accomplishment of your strategic plan goals and your organization’s success.