24th January - International Family Business Day

Today is ‘International Family Business Day’, so we sat down with long-time Rowan client Stephen Lord, the 4th-generation owner of industrial services supplier the John Lord Group (comprised of Canal Engineering LtdRizistalJohn Lord Specialist Flooring and SLS Design), who shared his thoughts on the challenges & considerations when running & growing a family business.

“It doesn’t stop when you leave the office – it gets taken home, it gets discussed around the kitchen table and it affects family life.

For many family business owners, it’s personal. The values of a business often represent those of the family, and along with those come emotions and passion.

Family businesses are often more connected to the communities they operate within. There are family ties and links that sometimes go back generations, which lead to family businesses being deeply rooted within, and strongly inclined to support, their local community though their employees and through business partnerships and personal connections.

Employing generations of the same family, like JLL does, is very special, but it brings responsibility beyond financial performance.

There are extra considerations to take into account when you have a family business – many family business owners hope to pass the business on to future generations. Succession plans, how family members working within the family business are treated and how those not involved are need to be considered.

This outlook means that many family business owners take much more of a ‘long-term view’ than non-family firms, whose senior leadership can change very quickly and with it, their goals and ambitions.

Family politics can play a part and many family firms go through turbulent patches when relations become fraught. Of course, if things do go wrong, there is much more at stake than with non-family businesses, as family relationships and prosperity are affected!

Structure and governance also differs to many non-family businesses.

I think that sometimes medium-sized family businesses particularly can struggle to recruit talent at a senior level because there are assumptions that there may not be the same career progression opportunities for them, due to family members potentially getting favourable treatment and fast-track promotions.

There are sometimes also assumptions from non-family senior leaders that family businesses do not utilise the same kind of decision-making processes and governance that non-family firms have in place.

This is something that our recruitment partners Rowan Executive Search have flagged & suggested that we address at interview stage when recruiting for senior positions.

In summary, I can confirm that owning and running a family business is all-consuming and in my case has defined me for 50 years!”

Rowan has worked with Stephen to appoint business leaders within the JLL Group’s companies, including FD and MD designate.