Today’s subject comes from an African proverb:
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to far, go together.
Before you “go” anywhere, you need to think about your priorities, and plan your “trip” the right way.
Family businesses, are more about “together” and “far”, not so much about “alone” and “fast”.
But most, successful businesses were started by one motivated, hard-working person, whose determination was the key to creating a business that was then capable of bringing in other family members.
Eventually, that founder gets older, and plans are made to transition the business to the next generation.
When there are several children, even if they all have valuable skills to contribute to the success of the company, what are the chances that they’ll all be in agreement about what to do, who does what, and who gets to decide?
We may have decided WHAT we want, that is, we want to go together. We also know why, because we’ve decided that we want to go far.
OK, so HOW do we do that?
The details around the “how” have derailed many a well-meaning family’s plans.
So, let’s go back to Africa, where our proverb came from.
If we’re planning a long trek through the desert or jungle as a family, what are some of the things that we’d need to do before leaving?
Oh, and the parents aren’t coming along on this trip, it’ll just be the siblings, because they’ll need to survive as a group without their parents. You do know the part about parents usually dying before their kids, right?
Here are some of the most important questions they need to answer:
- How are we going to make decisions together?
- How are we going to communicate effectively?
- How are we going to solve problems together?
Mom and Dad COULD sit them down and dictate the answers. That may be helpful. Or maybe not.
The answers should come from the sibling group, and not by the oldest child dictating them. That’s not much better than the parents’ answers, maybe worse.
These details should ideally be worked on together, as a group.
What we’re looking for is co-developing them, and building consensus along the way.
Can they do this by themselves? Maybe, but probably not right away.
Bringing in a skilled outside facilitator could be a great idea!
If you do that, your odds go up astronomically.
That’s all for today, I hope you got something useful, see you next time.