Well-oiled family business machinery rides on years of experience and modern day approach
By Ankit Agarwal
When we hear the term ‘family business’, the imagery that clouds our imagination is of a traditional set-up and systems in place. But, over the years, this imagery is changing and evolving for modernity in approach. Age-old practices are being replaced by new-age, technology-led practices, which ensures that ‘gut-feeling’ of an experienced first generation entrepreneur or promoter is replaced by ‘big-data’ led, well calculated, analytical nuances. Having said that, one cannot say either of the two is superior in comparison to the other. The beauty of a family business is co-existence of the two skills and how one generation rides on the other and derives benefits for the entire pool of stakeholders. This impacts the scale of the business and in-turn contributes, positively, to the business eco-system at large.
There are certain knacks of managing a business, which one picks up along the years that ultimately become the deciding factors for the entire business. Experience is the best teacher and it teaches you things that no textbook can. These nuances become a guiding light, which teach you a lot about risk taking and managing a company. There are always some additional benefits that can be reaped from the years of learning and experience of the senior management and the wise elderly founders of the company. From gaining insights about the hidden networking of the market, to deep understanding of the mindset and thought process of the industry stakeholders, the non-academic experience one can gain is tremendous and exclusive.
The ‘next-generation’ brings a lot of enthusiasm to the table. Being technology natives, this generation is brimming with ideas, which have the potential to revolutionise the way we look at how a business functions. You may consider this enthusiasm as free, wild energy that needs the right path and appropriate channelization, which can only be done by the experienced minds and the grey hair in the business. The energy, if manoeuvred in the right direction, can yield maximum benefits but if left open ended, it can cause havoc.
The young and budding minds of the newer generation fill the grooves with new ideas and trends that often act like the North Star for a business. The freshness of ideas and the power to conceptualise and materialise those ideas are the skill sets required to improve the quality of doing business. These technologically advanced minds go on and become the thought leaders and trend setters, influencing million others in the process.
While there is no doubt in the far-sighted vision and the promising outlook of the new ideas the younger generation brings in, the sure shot strategy to success lies in the ability to strike the right balance between the conventional and the modern. Even though simply changing things to something new and different for the sake of newness and innovation can seem like the best way to go and easy enough, it is a real skill to be able to blend in the two ideologies, the two generations together perfectly.
No matter what your achievements and how a company grows, there can always be a fresh move to succeed, going with the advanced new ideas of the progressive times but it can never as such beat the value of the extensive experience that the senior management has accumulated over years of work and market exposure. Each person, who is involved in the smooth functioning of a business, has ideas and suggestions of their own and managing these thoughts is a huge task in itself.
The functioning of a family business rests entirely on the chemistry of the two generations and the perfect blend of the two can take the business to new levels.
• For instance, the need for following certain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) has become prominent for standardisation and uniformity of operations. With the nature of work being done getting diversified, there is a need for smooth and efficient functioning of varied divisions. Following a certain set of procedures is just one of the things that the new generation brings to the table. At this level, relying on good old methods, which are impacted by personal discretion could prove to be catastrophic.
• Even though, the senior most employees and members of a company add rich experience to a company’s functioning, they should always be open to addition of more professionals, specialising in certain domains. This leads to value addition to various divisions and gives the entire business a new dimension and perspective.
• Being extremely driven by the advanced technological mechanisms today, the new generation is well-versed with latest trends that may prove to be more economical and efficient. Moreover, with the volume of work going up every day, there is a need for automation. For example: with higher work level, manual accounting may lead to errors and may be immensely time consuming, whereas, if this process is automated, it would lead to freeing up of the bandwidth of valued resources, who may then be able to engage in other useful tasks and add value to the more important financial systems of the company.
The key lies in being at sync with every functional part of a business. The right mix of experience and a flurry of new ideas is what can, potentially, take your business to the next level. It has always been a mutual relationship and that’s how it’ll always be. Just like a father hand-holds his child and later, relies on the same hand for help, is probably the most accurate way to describe this relationship!
The writer is Managing Director, Alankit