It is evident from academic studies of the family business life cycle that one of the most difficult hurdles owners face is in adapting their management styles to the demands of a larger, more complex business. If the enterprise is to continue to grow, instinctive management methods must give way to a ‘professionalized’ approach to the business – an approach based on planning and controlling growth through the use of strategic management techniques.
Family businesses pass through predictable stages of development and growth; it has become clear that they have to cope with a variety of change. In addition to the business life cycle, the changing life cycles of products, fluctuating competitive factors, the personal development of the founder and changing family needs all have a bearing on the outcome. There is often a critical point at which family businesses get into trouble. It is during a period of rapid change in the business, where the owner’s children are likely to have joined the company; conflict between father-son, siblings maybe threatening business efficiency; friction between the family and business systems is probably increasing; and overlaying all this, the company maybe at an organizational crossroads. Vital decisions are required to determine whether it will fail to get to grips with the need for change, risking ultimately its very survival.
To address the situation, instinctive management methods must give way to a ‘professionalized’ approach to the business.