The resilient family enterprise has been saved
The resilient family enterprise
Turning challenges into opportunities
Despite their reputation for resilience, optimism and agility, most family enterprises have been under significant pressure to respond to the general health, safety, and welfare challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the operational disruptions to their business. This series explores how the same traits that set family enterprise apart are creating authentic opportunities for resilience, growth, and recovery.
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Liquidity options can help position family firms to thrive
The business outlook is improving for many businesses around the world after one of the roughest years in recent memory. Perhaps the best news is that their post-COVID aspirations may not be too difficult to fund, given plentiful options for accessing liquidity.
A year ago, it took some substantial efforts by central banks and governments to keep the debt markets functioning after one of the deepest corporate bond sell-offs since the Global Financial Crisis. Some borrowers were shut out completely, forcing them to rely on COVID-19 emergency support programs.
Putting family first in IPO deliberations
For many family business founders, the decision to stay private is a personal one. They built their company from the ground up and they don’t want to put its fate in the hands of outsiders. When the day comes, many may assume they will pass the torch to their sons and daughters or other members of the family who are committed to sustaining their legacy.
It’s not until a crisis hits that the ground beneath such assumptions begins to crumble. And few crises have created as much uncertainty as the coronavirus pandemic. For more than a year now, families the world over have had to grapple with the loss of loved ones and caring for those who were afflicted. Those who run companies have had to do double duty, ensuring their companies have the resources and agility to stay afloat and stay competitive.
Your family business: Planning for what’s beyond the horizon
It’s been said that while public companies think in terms of quarters, family businesses think in terms of generations. Is it too early to start thinking about the year 2030? Or even 2040? Not if you’re a family enterprise looking to stay relevant. As companies work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, attention will begin to move from an “interim normal” to a “better normal” that capitalises on their resilience and agility.
When we look back 10 to 20 years from now, we may be able to point to companies whose success was driven by decisions made today based on a long view toward the horizon. Getting family business leaders to consider such long-term planning might seem unimportant in a year in which many are just trying to make it to 2021. But family-owned companies have survived recent economic recessions at a greater rate than non-family companies by keeping their eyes on the road ahead, launching new products, and preserving their emphasis on corporate social responsibility.
Cultivating a post-COVID “workplace”
Before 2020, the term “workplace” generally meant a dedicated office space for people to work together. And while there was a growing trend toward more remote work, COVID-19 has accelerated that movement, forcing businesses to rely on distributed networks of employees connected only by the strength of their internet connections. Now comes the question of what the workplace looks like once the crisis subsides.
Here’s the thing: as challenging as this year has been for employees suddenly forced to work remotely, most are getting used to it—and they don’t want to go back. A recent survey of more than 1,100 remote workers by The New York Times and Morning Consult found that 86 percent of workers were satisfied with their current situation.1 Why are they willing to work from the kitchen table? No time spent commuting, greater flexibility, and more time outside—to name a few reasons.
Beyond business: Philanthropy and strategic investing
While family businesses play a vital role in the giving ecosystem, a cascade of developments have prompted a seismic shift in philanthropy and strategic investing this year, accelerating the need to think more carefully and strategically about giving.
As family businesses assess the ways they can help combat the humanitarian crisis COVID-19 has unleashed, the severity of the pandemic has changed the tenor of philanthropic pursuits and investing decisions.
A natural starting point for family businesses in determining purpose beyond profit is defining the causes they support – and ensuring there are mechanisms for accountability built into philanthropic and strategic investing efforts.
The role of governance in family enterprises: Navigating purpose, power and performance
Even during the most stable of times, family enterprises are challenged to balance two simultaneous priorities - the natural progression of the enterprise itself and the evolution of the family.
These sometimes competing priorities can become accentuated when a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic comes along and adds fresh urgency to the ever-expanding complexities and challenges involved in running a family enterprise.
COVID-19 is teaching family businesses many lessons about preparedness, agility, and adaptation. It is also underscoring the need for critical self-assessment—a hard look at what’s working, what isn’t, and what’s not even being discussed that probably should be. That’s what good governance is all about today—building resilience.
Thriving at the intersection of purpose and trust
In recent years, companies across the economic spectrum have increasingly been engaged in a rethink about what drives them beyond making a profit. Many family businesses had a head-start on this. At one point in time or another, every family business founder had to come to grips with this question of purpose.
The global pandemic has shaken businesses to their core, impacting relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, communities, and other key stakeholders. Amidst this upheaval, family business leaders are looking for ways to reconnect with these constituents and even extend their reach. And that search has them thinking anew about the intersection of purpose and trust.
Unique characteristics of family enterprises that could position them to thrive
The introductory article in the Resilient Family Enterprise series examines how COVID-19 brings new focus to family business issues like succession planning, values and purpose, and legacy.
Upcoming articles will include the following topics:
- Purpose and trust
- Power and performance: The role of governance
- Beyond business: Philanthropy and strategic investing
- The post-COVID workplace
- Your family business: Planning with a 100-year horizon
- Well-being and health: The enterprise, the family and the individual
- What’s next for family businesses?