Financial capital is essential for starting and maintaining a family business. But to keep it going over the long haul, the vital ingredient is intellectual capital. A family business leader with know-how (and a little know-who as well) and the ability to keep learning and disseminating knowledge throughout the organization is well-positioned for long-term success. Without those qualities, no matter how well-stocked the corporate bank account, the prognosis is poor.
To become educated on family business, leaders need to read books, articles and case studies on family businesses — both successful and unsuccessful. They ought to network with other family businesses. They will want to confer with experienced consultants and expert advisors.
They also should attend family business seminars. Seminars are particularly effective sources for quickly and efficiently acquiring a broad range of types of intellectual capital. The offer the opportunity to hear from experts, learn from peers and build relationships, all at a single event.
Family business seminars are events typically ranging from a half-day to a weekend in length. A few may be as brief as a luncheon meeting. Some short events focus on a narrow topic, such as estate planning. Longer seminars will have a number of sessions that cover topics ranging from succession and strategic planning to human resources and economic trends. Check the agenda for any seminar you are considering to make sure the sessions are appropriate to your needs.
A family business seminar is likely include presentations from experienced family business advisors as well as subject matter experts such as bankers or attorneys. Many will have panel sessions or lectures conducted by established family business leaders. These presentations by veterans of the family business world may ultimately have the most value.
Ideally, the schedule will include time for informal social networking. Cocktail receptions and coffees held as part of seminars represent excellent opportunities to meet and build relationships with other family business executives. Later, these contacts can be tapped for consultations and advice.
A seminar is likely to include attendees from a range of industries and markets, representing firms large and small, old and young. These attendees can provide an unrivaled source of perspective on what the future may hold as, for instance, a privately held small company grows into one large enough to raise capital on the public markets.
Who should you send to a family business seminar? Look past obvious candidates like the CEO. Consider including members of both the current and next generation of leaders. This can help relationships within the business. Attending educational events away from the workplace can encourage development of new channels of communication and understanding between people who may otherwise have little in common. Other family members including non-working family, family employees not in line for senior positions and in-laws may also profit from family business seminars.
If attending a family business seminar sounds like a good idea — act on it! Spending a weekend or two each year at a well-run family business seminar can pay off. You will stay up to date on trends and techniques. You’ll learn about best practices in a variety of business functions. You’ll get the chance to make and maintain connections with other business families that can lead to long-term relationships that produce dividends for years to come. That’s not a bad return on an investment of a weekend.
For help with your family business contact Regeneration today.