“Moments of crisis can bring families together or they tear them apart – the choice is ultimately theirs…” For most people this quote evokes a typical response on the perils of family businesses – the forced interconnectedness, the difficult and oft-repeated conflicts, the inability to move forward nor walk away – all of which are greatly amplified in turbulent times, leading to the predicted downward spiral.
However, it will surprise most to learn that these words, spoken to us by the wise patriarch of a family business, were expressed to represent a fundamental strength and, if you allow, a sustainable competitive advantage of family businesses. Families, unlike traditional corporations, have an innate ability to rally together in difficult times; relying on their previous bonds, shared history and values, common goals, and yes even that forced interconnectedness to bring about a singular purpose of surviving with strength. Families can also leverage a unique, emotional context which is highly effective in unifying management and staff behind this forward charge. However, harnessing these strengths is a choice for the family, one requiring focused attention, planning and execution. With the current COVID-19 global crisis – a 100-year black-swan event – this choice is more critical than ever, and family businesses must choose now.