I enjoyed the IFB conference this year focused on ‘encouraging entrepreneurship in the next generation’ where I ran a session with Edouard Thijssen who is a next generation members of the Belgium Aliaxis family. During our session, we explored in a practical way, how families approach this and how the next generation of entrepreneurs are being nurtured and encouraged.
Why is this such an important subject? Every family business starts with a great innovation or a great entrepreneur or both, but as you move away from the founder, keeping that entrepreneurial spirit alive in the next generation and beyond becomes increasingly difficult. We discussed ideas such as reviewing governance and rules to ensure they encourage entrepreneurship and encouraging trial and error in the next generation.
However, we also discussed whether it is appropriate for the next generation to use the family business as a springboard and highlighted that it can impact brand and reputation or distract from the main business if not managed carefully.
Businesses tend to plan over a 3 to 5-year time horizon but families think in terms of generations, often planning over a 20 to 30-year horizon. It is the responsibility of each generation to develop their family plan and explore together what is going to work for the family and the business into the future and, hence, build a new generation of entrepreneurial activity.