2020 Foresight: 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Family Businesses

2020 Foresight
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Poland family business conference

The champagne has been popped and the previous year toasted; the holidays are behind us. With the calendar flipped to 2020, it’s time to focus on the opportunities of the coming year. This is the moment to evaluate where you wish to take your family business and what might get you there.

What trends could benefit your organisation? What behaviours and practices could you adopt that might make a difference? In short, how can you make 2020 a transformational year for your business?

To get the conversation started, here are some strategies that might help you reposition yourself in 2020’s business landscape – seven New Year’s resolutions worth considering.

Cloud Migration

If your family business stores data and applications on physical servers and has not yet embraced a cloud migration strategy, doing so would be a powerful way to start the year. Many family businesses start with a hybrid cloud approach where some data is stored on physical servers while other data is stored in the cloud.

Either way, cloud storage is appealing for a handful of reasons. First and foremost, the cloud is cost-effective. Without physical servers that demand both time and money to maintain, you’ll have more to budget elsewhere. This is why Gartner predicted that 90 per cent of organisations will adopt some form of hybrid infrastructure management solution this year.

Increase Your Digital Presence

If your business has been reluctant to embrace digitalisation, we have bad news for you: it is not 2019 anymore. Your bakery may indeed make the best cupcakes in the land. Still, if you are not utilising digital channels to promote, market and sell your product, you run the risk of being overtaken by a competitor who does. As every year goes by, millennials make up a larger and larger segment of the purchasing demographic. This is a group that, regardless of industry or product, prefers to search for and purchase products online.

If you have no digital presence whatsoever, a good place to start is with a website and mobile app for your business. Give your customers a digital opportunity to interact with your product or service. It’s not as complicated as it may seem.

Join the AI Revolution

If your business already has a digital presence, the logical next step is incorporating artificial intelligence. This can mean employing chatbots to enhance your customer service or automation to streamline your logistics.

All indicators point to an accelerating AI adoption curve; business owners will not want to fall behind. In 2018, the combined valuation for the commercial sector AI market was $21 billion. By 2025, analysts expect that number to soar to $190 billion.

Consider ways to incorporate this technology into your business today. Rather than waiting on a supercomputer that can predict the stock market, look for places where AI technology can eliminate repetitive tasks to make your operations leaner and more efficient.

Gender Equality 

The evidence is overwhelming, an unbalanced workplace isn’t just last decade – it’s last century. Janice DiPietro, a leading advocate for gender equality and Founder of Exceptional Leaders International (ELI), notes that family businesses are uniquely suited to lead the way.

“Women tend to bring certain invaluable attributes that typically mesh with the fabric of how a family business operates…Family businesses tend to be people-oriented and friendly. They are loyal to their customers, to their employees and they tend to be much more open and caring environments. This is a setting where women can thrive.”

Learn to Delegate 

Typically, successful family businesses are the product of a single founder’s vision and determination. Many successful entrepreneurs survive by looking after every single aspect of the business by themselves, which can make stepping back all the more difficult.

In the long run, this inability to let go can be detrimental to the family business. The fact is, everybody cannot be great at everything. Inevitably, there are aspects of running the business where you will not be as strong. It may seem counterintuitive, but delegating tasks that you struggle with or find overwhelming can add strength to the business and allow you to focus on those areas where you excel.

Tap Into Big Data

 Through the course of running your day-to-day business, you collect tons of data that can help your company grow. Too often, family business owners are either unaware or unable to take advantage of the goldmine of data they create every day.

In the retail sector alone, the numbers are staggering. According to figures compiled by McKinsey & Company, “Companies championing the use of customer analytics are 6.5 times more likely to retain customers, 7.4 times more likely to outperform their competitors on making sales to existing customers (with upsell and cross-sell strategies), and nearly 19 times more likely to achieve above-average profitability.”

Utilising data ties in to our first resolution, because without a solid cloud migration strategy, getting the most out of your data will be difficult.

Get Your Governance House in Order

Tackling long-overdue governance issues is like the family business equivalent of cleaning out the garage. It is a task seemingly so massive, that it gets put off for as long as possible. Unlike a cluttered garage, however, the consequences of leaving governance unattended are potentially far more severe than teetering storage bins full of Ace of Base memorabilia.

Fortunately, there are ways to tackle the issue in a series of small and manageable steps. Start by appointing a Family Governance Officer to give governance the attention it deserves. They make sure that governance is formalised and that there is an agreed-upon process for making decisions.