Monday 19 April 2021
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Why family businesses fail to outlive founders

An expert has shared his views as to why most family businesses fail to survive when the founder is no more. Carl Bates says a business must not focus solely on the owner but rather the entire staff compliment. Bates is a global entrepreneur, speaker, author, mentor, director and dynamic thought leader from New Zealand who has just concluded a two-day business summit in Windhoek. “A business should not be focused around the owner. It should be focused around the business and the owner should be part of the support structure that will make the business successful,” advised Bates during an exclusive interview with this publication on Wednesday afternoon. According to Bates, business owners often find it difficult to regulate matters, especially in family run companies because they do not set their expectations and priorities.
“Family members should be treated just like any other employee if one really wants the business to be successful. If they are not delivering to their job descriptions then they need to be removed from the business,” he said, adding that everyone in the business must be given responsibilities.

He also emphasized why it is important to build the business around employees instead of the employer. He said: “The employees will have a sense of accountability when trained and empowered and that way the business can outlive the owner. But if it [owner] revolves around the owner it will be a challenge.” If your business is successful, said Bates, attribute this to the company and not on yourself. Bates believes business is not only about making money but rather delivering on a promise and understanding of individuals’ reason for existence and contributing that promise to the world. “Success in business is not determined by the amount of money or people in a company.  The sustainability of the underlying business is what is important. In this day and age one cannot rely on the government pension fund,” said Bates, who is also an international expert on business growth and the education and implementation of governance for SMEs and private companies.

He said there are few people in business who can achieve a level of success and even less who have reached their ‘summit’’ of extreme business success. “While business at its core is simple, as it grows and develops it gets more complex. People manage businesses, but often do not apply the principles they would of someone they would appoint to run the business for them. Yet they continue pushing to reach the summit,” he said. He also stressed the need to create enough revenue to pay staff and all resources that are required to run a business.
“It’s better to have smaller portion of a bigger pie than have all of the pie when it is a very small one,” Bates said.

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