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In the family business we have to consider the origin of entrepreneurial spirit as a function of generations: In the case of the founder, entrepreneurial spirit was a necessity, because they often do not have infrastructure or wealth when starting out. In this creation phase, there is a force, a passion and energy, which is not present in the same form in the generation that follows because the requirements of the business change. However, many founder’s children manifest decided entrepreneurial spirit by improving distribution, internationalisation, company-family balance, respect for the environment and implementing new technologies, issues which were not considered priorities in the founder generation.
Entrepreneurial spirit through the generations
To ensure the transmission of entrepreneurial spirit from one generation to the next, business families are encouraged to use their innate resources: The most important success factor for an entrepreneur is to have mentors that are close by and can be consulted regularly. Only by observing others can family members learn, and only in this way can they become convinced that things can be done differently. The fact that family businesses often have multiple generations working together at the same time should facilitate this model with the older and younger generation nurturing their respective entrepreneurial spirit.
Growing a business means years of learning and all kinds of experiences. Working a functional relationship between generations also takes time. If a family is looking for a good long-term investment, they should think of formalising the process of sharing knowledge and learned lessons with the next generation. Understanding the passions driving each generation’s entrepreneurial spirit is key to bridging the generational gap and to facilitating succession. Family businesses must engage in educating themselves with regards to entrepreneurship and understand that it comes in various shapes and forms depending on the times and the state of the business. Families must learn to take the right amount of time (not too much, not too little), for the implementation of this plan. Working consistently with focus, is the secret that will help to protect the harmony of the family and support the succession process of the business.
Entrepreneurial spirit will always remain the driving force behind family business growth no matter what stage or generation the business family is at. Nurturing this spirit and allowing it space to expand will not only be for the good of the company but will also help to manage the expectations of all members involved, leading to an even stronger family cohesion.