We attended the DCU National Centre for Family Business conference and networking event at DCU Business School, where enterprising families took centre stage. Growing a family business during changing times can be challenging, which is why family businesses should start planning as early as possible for the next generation.
Attendees heard from two of Ireland’s growing enterprising family businesses: Rosy Temple, Sales Development Manager, and Lynn Temple, CEO at Magee 1866; as well as Clare Kelly and Rebecca Kelly, Directors at Glandore.
The morning was opened with a keynote from Director of DCU National Centre for Family Business, Dr Eric Clinton, and MC'd by Professor Maura McAdam, Professor of Management and Director of Entrepreneurship at DCU and Director of Research at the DCU Centre of Family Business.
The speakers discussed how family influences entrepreneurial activity; their own company culture; leadership business practices; as well as how to engage the next generation. Here are our top takeaways from the day.
There are more than you think
Did you know that 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies are family-run businesses, including Wal-Mart and BMW? Family businesses are a hugely influential feature of every economy and the Irish economy is no different. 75 percent of companies in Ireland are family businesses and that’s excluding the additional large portion of family based enterprises working within the agricultural sector. Examples of some familiar Irish family businesses include Keelings, The Doyle Collection, Smurfit Kappa as well as fellow speakers Magee 1866 and Glandore.
Dr Eric Clinton explained his research interests and joked about how if the audience didn’t leave understanding what transgenerational entrepreneurship meant, they’d all “get their money back”. Explaining how entrepreneurial and innovative mindsets within family businesses are passed from one generation to the next, Dr Clinton pointed out that many of those in the audience were part of transgenerational entrepreneurial families (TEFs), most likely without even realising it.
Investment, innovation and the next generation
An interesting question posed by Dr Clinton was based around the transgenerational entrepreneurship topic. Family businesses often face the challenge of tradition vs change, and the part that lies in-between is trust. How will this challenge be faced by the next generation? If you have invested, and continue to invest, in innovation and entrepreneurship, how can family businesses instil this in the next generation?
As Dr Clinton advised, younger members of the family are “owners-in-waiting” and an idea would be to get children involved in the business and familiar with the company values at an early age.
Be proud to be a part of it
According to Rosy Temple, those working within a family business should maximize the fact that they are. Having worked outside of Magee 1866 for some time prior to joining the family business, she expressed gratitude to have it to come back to and equally, to bring acquired skills back with her. This sense of pride is one that Temple echoed in how she explained that her and her siblings, also involved in the family business, were never pressured to join the company.
The importance of outside insight
Rosy Temple pointed out that while the “buck stops” at each of the family members, it “ultimately stops at Dad”. We learned about the importance of having trust in non-family members, as both Magee 1866 and Glandore have non-family team members as part of their board and in senior management positions. Dr Clinton said that one of the most common questions he gets asked is around the involvement of non-family members on a board of directors. Many ask when to do it and who to have? Family businesses are forced to look at what skills the board need from outside, non-family directors that they may not already have themselves. Lynn Temple encouraged the audience to always involve non-family members in strategic business decisions as, according to Temple, it needs to be “balanced by non-family member expertise”.
In order for families to succeed together in business, it’s important to have separate areas of responsibility. Lynn Temple reflected on how, when he first joined the family business straight out of university, initially he wasn’t given any clear responsibility. Temple then said how “vital it is” for family members to “be accountable for their respective areas.” At both Magee 1866 and Glandore, each family member takes responsibility for certain areas of the business. That way, according to Rebecca Kelly, every member of the family can then have autonomy while still playing to their own strengths.
Values really do add value
Dr Eric Clinton, Lynn and Rosy Temple along with Clare and Rebecca Kelly each discussed the direct relationship between business values and family values. As Rebecca Kelly said, her family and the senior management team all came together to physically put into writing what the values of their business are. According to Clare Kelly, by knowing, living and practising the company values, every employee can assist in shaping the culture and the company's identity into the future. She expressed the importance of how it must be a top down approach.
Plan for the future
As Glandore continued to grow, with it came the planning and strategy for succession. Clare Kelly told the audience how they, as a family and board of directors, sat down three years ago and made a shareholder’s agreement. This plan covers all the key points and makes provision for the running of the business for the next generations. Rebecca Kelly also explained how in looking to the future, as family members, they will need to take a step back and give more ownership to management, who are non-family team members.
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