Often the company founders (first generation) haven’t studied at all: it is due to the historical period and the economic conditions in which they grew up. Sometimes, however, the cause is also linked to a typical aspect of their personality: the urgency. This aspect lead them to not waiting for the end of their studies in order to jump into the fray and create their own company.
For those who were born and raised in a family business, studying becomes a fundamental way to have the right skills to work and have responsibility in a solid company. But studying is not enough.
Two things are really important: building an entrepreneurial spirit and having work experiences in different companies.
The traditional school, born after the industrial revolution, has the purpose of training students in order to involve them in the productive structures, not of building entrepreneurs. So how is it possible to grow an entrepreneurial spirit? Leaving space for autonomy and creativity.
The entrepreneurial spirit can be cultivated with experience, you just had to allow your children to observe and get involved. How much do you care to expose your kids to occasions from which they can absorb the entrepreneurial spirit? How much do you allow them to do something alone and make mistakes?
Different ways of doing business
If the first work experience of the children takes place within the walls of the family business, there is the risk that the children themselves give for established a certain way of managing the company (that of the parents). If the children had not experience in other contexts, they cannot make comparisons, they are not able to suggest new ways to manage improvable aspects of the company. There is not a single way of doing business: if children experience outside the family business, they can come back and bring new ideas.
When the children do not work for other companies, they can only become the photocopies of their parents. But photocopies are never like the originals. Generally, in this situation parents see their children always inadequate because they are their “bad copy”. On the contrary, if the children are able to observe the family business with a more independent eye (result of external experiences), the company will be able to find a great benefit.
Build the self-esteem
Another reason why it is important for children to have external experiences before entering the family business is that they can build their self-esteem.
If a child has grown up only in his family business he will always have doubts about his skills. If, on the other hand, he manages to grow professionally in other companies, he will know that he does not get corporate responsibility just because he is “the son of the owners”. In this case he has results speaking for him: in his previous job he has acquired proven skills. Thanks to the external experience the children enter the company with the belief of being worth something.
What kind of experiences?
What are the external experiences useful for the children? There is no ideal path, but first of all it is necessary to ask yourself how much this path brings the children away from the company and how much the resulting skills can be useful to the family business.
Sometimes the answers to these questions can be very different from the classic paths taken by the children of entrepreneurs. For example a sportsman could be considered very distant from the family business but he has the right soft skills to become an entrepreneur: the value of the team, the management of defeat, he works by objectives. They are all very useful skills even in a business context.
The Family Card
All these advises only makes sense if shared among all members of the entrepreneurial family. But in family businesses we often make the mistake of taking certain rules, certain duties, certain values for granted, expecting certain behaviors from others. For this reason it is necessary to “put on paper” all the rules you want to be respected.
To help whit that, FBU has created the Family Paper: a free tool that helps all the members of the family business to talk about those delicate issues.