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The resilient family enterprise

Turning challenges into opportunities

Despite their reputation for resilience, optimism and agility, most family enterprises have been under significant pressure to respond to the general health, safety, and welfare challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the operational disruptions to their business. This series explores how the same traits that set family enterprise apart are creating authentic opportunities for resilience, growth, and recovery.

Unique characteristics of family enterprises that could position them to thrive

The introductory article in the Resilient Family Enterprise series examines how COVID-19 brings new focus to family business issues like succession planning, values and purpose, and legacy.

Upcoming articles will include the following topics:

  • Purpose and trust 
  • Power and performance: The role of governance
  • Beyond business: Philanthropy and strategic investing
  • The post-COVID workplace
  • Your family business: Planning with a 100-year horizon
  • Well-being and health: The enterprise, the family and the individual
  • What’s next for family businesses?

Thriving at the intersection of purpose and trust

In recent years, companies across the economic spectrum have increasingly been engaged in a rethink about what drives them beyond making a profit. Many family businesses had a head-start on this. At one point in time or another, every family business founder had to come to grips with this question of purpose.

The global pandemic has shaken businesses to their core, impacting relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, communities, and other key stakeholders. Amidst this upheaval, family business leaders are looking for ways to reconnect with these constituents and even extend their reach. And that search has them thinking anew about the intersection of purpose and trust.

The role of governance in family enterprises: Navigating purpose, power and performance

Even during the most stable of times, family enterprises are challenged to balance two simultaneous priorities - the natural progression of the enterprise itself and the evolution of the family.

These sometimes competing priorities can become accentuated when a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic comes along and adds fresh urgency to the ever-expanding complexities and challenges involved in running a family enterprise.

COVID-19 is teaching family businesses many lessons about preparedness, agility, and adaptation. It is also underscoring the need for critical self-assessment—a hard look at what’s working, what isn’t, and what’s not even being discussed that probably should be. That’s what good governance is all about today—building resilience.

Beyond business: Philanthropy and strategic investing

While family businesses play a vital role in the giving ecosystem, a cascade of developments have prompted a seismic shift in philanthropy and strategic investing this year, accelerating the need to think more carefully and strategically about giving.

As family businesses assess the ways they can help combat the humanitarian crisis COVID-19 has unleashed, the severity of the pandemic has changed the tenor of philanthropic pursuits and investing decisions.

A natural starting point for family businesses in determining purpose beyond profit is defining the causes they support – and ensuring there are mechanisms for accountability built into philanthropic and strategic investing efforts.

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