Family businesses I work with vary in type and stage of development – as well as what actually makes them a family business. They may be a long-established intergenerational business in the stages of being handed over from parent to children. It might also be a start-up or existing business that a couple are setting up or buying into. Often it’s about setting professional boundaries, having effective communication, and clearly defined end-goals – to make sure working lives don’t interfere with personal relationships.
Understand your challenges
The challenges that all business face, whether it’s a start-up, trade, or professional service, certainly apply to family businesses. They have an added layer of complexity though, and bring a series of questions that need to be answered well, including: What’s the endgame? What will the handover process look like? What about the organisational structure, asset management, and shareholder agreements? What are each person’s roles and responsibilities, and who has the final say on decision making and direction?
Take the right approach
The first thing we have to do is consider the big picture. We’ll get together to look at the next three years, and then where they will lead in the next ten. It’s so important to discover, or redefine, what the business is really all about, and what each person wants out of it. Then we’ll systematically review the inner workings of the business, unpacking all of the different processes and arrangements, and setting new rules and roles for the operations going forward.
Coaching tailored for you
There can be a few complex factors at play, so after your free Introduction & Assessment Session, a full day’s planning session with all involved family members is a great start. I’ll then write up a formal Action Plan with specific achievable goals, set timelines, and descriptions of each person’s role. It can also include succession planning. Going forward, we’ll then do some sort of regular catch up, depending on what’s required. That could be weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, or annually – to measure your progress, help you stay on track or make adjustments as new challenges come up. In addition, I’m here to support you when you need it. Often that means playing a mediation role, to make decisions and avoid conflict – or to work past one that arises.
Create new success
With a strong plan in place, your family business will be better able to succeed, not only in business but also in your relationships with each other. There will be a seamless handover process, and clear overall direction, with measurables along the way. Everyone will know exactly where they stand and what their roles are – which boosts each family member’s autonomy and efficiency, and lets them feel valued. Any family issues or disagreements won’t overshadow what you’re trying to achieve professionally. Through practical planning, and stress-free communication, you’ll be able to deal with any tricky decisions. With the personal issues out of the way, your customers will be happier working with you, and your business will become more profitable.
Our business is GYB Insurance Brokers. We are primarily financial advisors assisting businesses throughout New Zealand with their fire and general insurance. My father Allan started the business (then called AJIB – Allan Jecks Insurance Brokers) in 1993. It had been going really well, but the business had no real planning for where we wanted to be in the next five or ten years’ time. So we needed some direction as to how we could grow, while focussing on the areas we wanted to move into. There was no great financial need to do that, but it was partly a result of Allan wanting to go to part-time. It wasn’t broken so I didn’t want to completely change everything, but we needed to figure out how I could help develop the business and put my stamp on it.
We wanted advice from someone who has looked at other businesses and put plans in place to get where we wanted to be in future. So we did a day’s planning session with Steve and decided on the best areas to move into, which was the trades. He also helped us set targets, so we had a better focus, and clear plans. We started catching up two or three times a month to keep on track. We also planned for Allan to step back, while ensuring the continuity of the business as I became the director. At first, GYB (Got Your Back) was only going to be the name of our new trades scheme,
but we decided to roll it out to the rest of the business. We didn’t want our existing clients to think anything else had changed, so we provided them with special marketing material. We made sure all our systems were ready to launch, and hit the ground running. Steve really helped us get the new brand out there too.
Now Allan is working part time, we have four shareholders, and my role is in business development and marketing. The rebrand has worked really well. I’ve been surprised at how much positive feedback we’ve had about it. Where before we were clearly a family business, GYB Insurance Brokers is a bit catchier, and tells more of a story about what we do for our clients. We have got a clear direction for the services and schemes we want to provide for our clients. We’ve also grown as a result. We are expanding our staff, looking to go nationwide, and are heading towards having our best year ever. A lot of that has come down to the trade offering which has been really successful. We catch up with Steve every couple of months, and obviously he’s always on call so we can bounce things off him, which is really handy.
“It was so beneficial getting Steve to look at our business, the way we do things, and help us make a pretty big transition. When you come up with new ideas, it can be easy to look at them through rose-tinted glasses. So having someone external who can provide additional input, and help figure out ways to market to your target customers really assisted us in working out our new branding,
and getting the name out there. Also having someone holding you accountable to your goals and plans means new ideas don’t die away like we have seen in the past. It’s all very well having a plan,
but Steve’s assistance in its implementation is one of the best aspects of his service for us. He doesn’t just see you and then pull away, he keeps in contact. His input has been so valuable.”
We’ll discuss your business, review your systems, and consider your
goals. It’s a great chance to take a fresh look at your business, and
discover how coaching can add real value for you. I look forward to
chatting with you, and finding out more about you and your business!