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BizX: Advice from Experts – August 28, 2020

Diversify Your Family Business

Illustration: Getty Images, CSA-PRINTSTOCK

This Month’s Expert: Jean Santos, partner and senior consultant, Business Consulting Resources

Among the many things we have learned from the pandemic is the value of diversification and innovation in business. Adding those elements to your family business can be a challenging process, but here are six steps to jump-start that essential transition:

1. Look hard at the company’s mission and values

That can be painful, especially when a founder’s vision has served the company well for many years. But times change, and companies die when they don’t adapt to those changes – now more than ever. Hold many conversations and make sure all family members are on board with the company’s revised mission and its values.

2. Put on your entrepreneurial hats 

Look for gaps in the market and see what you can do to fill those gaps. Once a gap is identified, invest in market research. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but it should help you assess whether your idea to fill that gap has potential.

3. Look at your technology platforms 

They should optimize your efficiency, enhance revenue generation and help you to effectively communicate with customers and your internal team. If your tech is subpar, there are lots of alternatives out there, and the options grow every month.

4. Embrace calculated risk

Innovation is risky but it doesn’t have to be too risky. Think, plan, do, test, change and repeat until you finally find the right things to go all in on.

5. Vet every idea 

Vet ideas from others in the family, even ideas you don’t like. You are not the customer. Know there will be disagreements among your family and employees along the path to diversification and innovation. Embrace those disagreements and practice productive conflict strategies to help find the best path.

6. Consider succession

Amid all the changes in Hawai‘i and the world, acknowledge that this may be the best time for your generation to let go and let the next generation take control. They may be ready and have the skills to thrive in changing environments while wanting to protect the legacy of the family-owned company.

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