Re-Envisioning a Traditional Family Business

Ever wondered how often you should have an eye check-up? As we lose our natural vision, the older we get; we often require the assistance of others, to see what is before us.

This holds true in the life of a family business; the longer we co-exist together, the harder it becomes to “see” and be forward thinking, without the assistance of others, our business leadership team, and employees.

On our own, we may no longer see what needs to be fixed, before it breaks.

Why should we fix something that isn’t broken?

In a business, vision and innovation are inseparable ingredients, in remaining relevant to our customers changing needs and sustainable as a business for our shareholders and families.

The marketplace for our goods and services is changing rapidly as a result of the change in people’s economic positions, social expectations, and basic needs and wants. The speed of this change is beyond human, as we have designed technological processes to deliver on these demands.

Those processes come with another challenge – they also have changed the manner in which people buy and sell. Purchasing online, and having your goods delivered to your door, has disrupted family business retail stores – from clothing to furniture to high-end jewellery.

Can Our Traditional Business Deliver in a Progressive Marketplace?

What we consider as “disruptive entrants” into our markets; are simply businesses who have been:

(a) visionary – they thought and planned around the future with imagination and wisdom; and 
(b) innovative – they have been courageous enough to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

A Century old Modern-Day Success Story

In a modest start-up in 1908, Australian based Rossi Boots began its +110-year-old success story, in the design, manufacture and delivery of high-quality footwear.

After decades of success, and into the fourth generation; the family-run concern encountered the same modern-day hurdle that many other businesses had stumbled over.

In an interview with Tharawat Magazine, Melinda Rossiter, Business Development Manager, and great-granddaughter of the company’s founder, explains:

“Our industry has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. The resiliency and flexibility needed to navigate these profound changes didn’t exist when we joined”. “Rossi Boots was still operating the same way it had been in its heyday… and it just wasn’t working”.

How Did They Overcome This?

    • “Over the last four years, we’ve changed everything – including the culture, which has meant significant staffing changes as well”
    • “We’ve had to restructure, redesign and relocate”
    • “Our entire family is invested in this transformation”

Seven Keys to Bring Change to Your Traditional Family Business:

  1. Write down what you are changing to! There needs to be a clear set of objectives you are working toward.
  2. Outline the new values of the business. Remember – leaving behind traditions should never mean forgetting your values.
  3. Change the firm’s business model – don’t be trapped in the cycle of optimising your revenue off your current model today; consider how you will generate revenue from your current or new business model tomorrow.
  4. Change your surroundings to change the culture. Humans adapt very well to changes in environment; use that in a positive way to implement your new ethos.
  5. Get everyone on board, involved in the right places, and committed. That means family, management and staff.
  6. Sponsor innovation. Give the younger generation opportunities to apply themselves. Today’s technologies are no longer emerging; they have emerged and are now advancing in application.
  7. Focus on matching your family businesses’ core competencies with the trajectory of changing industries.

Know that “out with the old, in with the new”, does not have to apply to your business. Learn from other family businesses who have faced the same challenge, committed themselves to modifying their business model, and are now thriving.

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