• Sunday, March 03, 2024
businessday logo


Professionalising family business governance

Professionalising family business governance

Family-run enterprises stand as the heartbeat of economies worldwide, playing a significant role in job creation and economic expansion. Yet, steering and nurturing a family business across generations can be a complex journey in navigating the intricacies of both family bonds and business endeavors.

In this era, the essence of upholding enduring prosperity and fortune within family-run ventures revolves around professionalizing family business governance. Through the adoption of best practices and the cultivation of a culture that thrives on openness and accountability, family businesses can chart a course toward building lasting legacies.

Distinctive obstacles often meet family-run enterprises in contrast to their non-family counterparts. These include, but are not limited to:

Interwoven Roles: Family members engaged in the business might juggle multiple roles, potentially giving rise to conflicting interests and blurred boundaries between personal matters and business choices.

Generational Transition: Crafting a seamless handover of leadership from one generation to the next stands pivotal, yet this endeavor can be emotionally charged and intricate, posing threats to the venture’s stability.

Communication and Decision Crafting: Informal communication pathways within a family can interfere with effective decision-making, hindering the enterprise’s advancement.

Enduring Vision: The tightrope that family businesses tread involves balancing short-term gains with long-range vision, a challenge amplified when familial interests and aspirations diverge.

Typically, family businesses spring up from humble origins, fueled by the founder’s zeal and toil. As these ventures flourish and flourish further, operational intricacies may recline, necessitating a more methodical approach to decision-making. Here, family dynamics and sentiments can entwine with business matters, potentially sparking discord, succession dilemma, and a deficiency in accountability.

To professionalise family business governance is to embrace business benchmarks and management tenets that disentangle family and business realms, bringing clear emphasis on expansion, efficiency, enduring strategy and this brings some advantages:

Improved Decision Making: Enacting a structured governance framework empowers family businesses to establish well-defined roles and obligations, underpinning decisions rooted in sound business principles rather than emotional undercurrents.

Enhanced Corporate Governance: Professionalization fosters transparency in communication and financial disclosure, nurturing trust among family members and stakeholders.

Attracting External Talent: A professionally steered family business garners heightened allure to external talents and potential investors, drawn to a realm of stability and meticulous organization.

Mitigating Conflict: Robustly outlined governance mechanisms avert and deftly manage conflicts arising from divergent familial visions for the venture’s future.

Financial Stability: A professional fiscal and risk management approach readies the business to weather economic downturns and other adversities.

Facilitating Succession Planning: Professionalization sets the groundwork for a seamless transference of leadership across generations, assuring continuity and enduring prosperity.

Critical steps to professionalise family business governance are:

Establish a Family Constitution: A family constitution serves as a compass, outlining the family’s values, vision, and mission for the business. It tackles matters like family member entry and exit guidelines, roles within the firm, and frameworks for resolving disputes.

Create a Board of Directors: A balanced board of directors, encompassing both family and non-family members, introduces fresh perspectives. Independent directors furnish valuable insights and challenge prevailing norms, contributing to fortified governance and vigilant oversight.

Implement Corporate Governance Policies: Forging and embedding corporate governance protocols adhering to global best practices which should encompass financial reporting, risk management, and ethical guidelines for the business.

Professional Management: Consider hiring proficient managers from outside the family, infusing the business with know-how and expertise which can bring fresh perspectives to management.

Read also: Family offices: Creating benefits for affluent families

Educating Family Members: Provide ongoing education and training to family members involved in the business, helping them develop the necessary skills and knowledge to contribute effectively.

Regular Appraisal: Conduct regular reviews and assessments of the governance structure to identify areas for improvement and adapt to changing circumstances.

In conclusion, professionalizing family business governance is not an overnight process, but rather a journey that requires commitment, collaboration, and adaptability. It involves significant changes in mindset and organizational culture and by embracing this transformation, family businesses can unlock their full potential and secure a sustainable legacy for generations to come.

Ask Genea

Should you wish to explore the topic further and discuss how it might impact your family wealth and legacy aspirations, please reach out to any of the Genea team below: Abiola Adediran, Partner; Abiola Adekoya,