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31 January, 2013 | By Attracta Mooney
1: Failure isn’t a bad thing
Most entrepreneurs will fail a couple of times before succeeding. “It hurts but I think you can learn a lot from that, if people around you are supportive,” says Johan Andresen, the owner of Norwegian conglomerate Ferd.
2: Start young
Speak to children about the family’s entrepreneurs and take teenagers to family business conferences, says Ann Dugan, fourth-gen of a US lumber business and founder of the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence. Also make use of Continued from previous page
the media – business magazines and TV shows make great resources.
3: Look outside the operating company
Family offices can act like venture capital firms, supporting next-gens looking to start their own firm. Also consider reverse succession – where next-gens start their own business and, if successful, the new company is acquired by the family firm.
4: Use your core skills
“One of the strengths of family firms, especially those that have been successful in passing on the firm throughout the generations, comes from their ability to focus on their core competencies while maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit,” says Strike.
5: Theory isn’t enough
Seeing how businesses work is important, says Anne Kirstine Riemann, second-generation owner of Riemann.“It’s a lot easier to understand theory when you know the real life situations in which the theory is to be applied.”
6: Follow your instincts
Ask plenty of questions and get some experience, then “go with your gut”, says Riemann.
7: Look at the company’s divisions
Could divisions in the business be improved? “I know of several cases where next-gens work in the family business and develop their own area.”
8: Next-gens need to decide for themselves
Expose next-gens to the business, to entrepreneurial ideas and to different options – but don’t force them one way or the other. As Riemann says, there is a fine line that the older generation should be careful of crossing – don’t make their decisions for them.
9: Risk is important, but know your limits
It sounds simple, but don’t risk more than you can afford. As Andresen says: “Let’s say you have a core business and you use part of those assets or a division to do something different, set up a new company or embark on some innovation agenda. Of course, if the core business doesn’t throw off enough cash, that entrepreneurial agenda can by definition be a strain on the main business.”