Partnering with other organisations can broaden your family business’ potential and it is worth exploring how collaboration can deliver results.

Business collaboration is increasingly common practice across all sectors – but perhaps a more challenging concept for those family businesses who have previously thrived by using the skills and knowledge of employees with whom they have built a long-term relationship.

Although trust is a key component within family businesses, to collaborate well, you need a partner outside the core business and even with competitors. This raises questions such as: How much trust can you place in someone outside your business? How can you build a strong relationship knowing that it may only be for a few months or a couple of years? How do we maintain the culture and vision of our family business working alongside others?

Why collaborate with external organisations?
Businesses that are third, fourth or fifth generation or more have often thrived by keeping their business information and future plans within the family and a close circle of key employees. This approach has worked across multiple generations before. So why is a different approach necessary?
Since we are operating in a different economic environment, we have to consider how best to grow our businesses in volatile, uncertain and complex markets.

To innovate may require diversification, technological advances or expansion. Yet it is almost impossible for any organisation to have the right skills and resources within their business.
There is market revolution and business model disruption in almost every industry and innovation. Meeting these challenges requires new skills, insights and technological change.

What might you collaborate on?
Family businesses should consider what the sacred cows of their business are. Where would (and wouldn’t) they be happy to share information, co-create a product or enter new markets?
Many successful businesses are focusing on innovation for future success.
Raising finance in new ways, through crowdfunding for example. This may not be appropriate for your business but consider the growth of large corporate peer-to-peer funding in the USA or the possibility of family businesses and family offices offering finance to your business – or vice versa.
Using your employees, customers and/or suppliers to foster open innovation involves putting your problems, questions and thoughts out for others to resolve and propose solutions.
Consider what areas you can – and are willing – to collaborate in.
Collaboration can unlock significant value for your business. Experience has highlighted the benefit of an independent challenge to a board’s discussions, not least as history and institutional memory can hamper innovative thought, collaboration can help unlock free-thinking.

Entrepreneurial behaviour in family businesses can benefit from fresh ideas, expertise and contacts to open the door to new markets and greater growth potential.

Source: Daily Monitor