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From Entrepreneur to Mentor: The Right Path

By Sandeep Nerlekar

It is not necessary that a great player should be a good captain. Sachin Tendulkar is considered God of Indian cricket, but he was not a successful captain and on the other hand Dhoni may not be the best batsman or wicket keeper, but he is certainly the best captain. The early part of the entrepreneur’s journey is like an individual sport like tennis or badminton, where in an individual’s skills are put to test. It may not impact the team as there is no team, he plays solo.

But the family business is like a team game, like football, hockey or cricket. In these sports every player contributes, and their end goal is to work together and win. If one player does not contribute, then the rest of the team covers up for him. Only competent players get to play and out of form players are rested. Every player is aligned to one single objective i.e. winning. The team comes first and not the individual.
In a team event the captain guides and motivates the team. His job is to ensure that the plan is in place and everyone works according to the plan. He is the one who knows the strengths and weaknesses of his players and uses them accordingly.

In Family business every member needs to be aligned to the common objective. They need to be familiar with the core values of the family and contribute.

A wrong mentor can be detrimental to the growth of the family business.

In most family business cases we have seen that the patriarch is not ready to pass on the baton to the next generation. He needs to play the role of a mentor and if he does not do it then it reflects negatively, both on the family and the business. He fails to understand that everybody has a defined shelf life and he needs to prepare someone to take over the baton from him.

It is important and would be wise to take help of external experts who understand the subject well and can provide a holistic approach.
Like in any team sport, the captain is expected to know the players weaknesses and strengths and use them to the team’s advantage. The patriarch should also know his family members strengths and weaknesses and use it accordingly. In a team sport a captain is assisted by the coach and the manager, similarly business families can take help of family business advisors, who can understand the business dynamics and family dynamics. It is important to understand the individual family members, their strengths and weaknesses, their aspirations and plans. It is the job of the mentor to give them clarity about the future, since lack of clarity can lead to insecurity. He needs to do the SWOT analysis of all family members. The emotional quotient plays an important role as well, since family ties are delicate and can disturb the family harmony if not handled correctly.

To ensure you guide your family to lead the family business successfully you need to keep in mind the following:

• Understanding the family members

• Doing a SWOT analysis (skills, capabilities and behavioural aspects) for each family member

• Develop the values and capabilities of the family members

• Building a team

• Defining their roles and responsibilities

• Prepare a succession plan

• Communication is the key

• Prepare a chart to help you analyse the current position, expectation, Gap and the actionable for the family members.

The writer is Founder & CEO of ‎Terentia Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.

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