Growing your Business is like Raising your Family

The summer of 2014 has been a fun and productive time in my life.  There are parts of the summer that are just like every other one, the increase in temperature and humidity here in the Nashville area have occurred and the growth of my flowers and garden continues to progress also.  What has changed this summer is that our family is going through a transition stage.  This transition will involve the marriage of both of our sons in 2015.  I am very excited for both of the boys, but even more so, I am looking forward to having two new members of the family.

Families grow and evolve and without this growth and change the family might not continue to survive and flourish.  Marriage is certainly a key method for this change and growth to occur and another way that families evolve is through the birth or addition of children to the unit.  We are not close to that stage right now, but I hope we have that opportunity sometime in the future after both boys get settled in with their new families.

Organizations grow and evolve, just like families do.  As I reflected this past weekend in the pastoral beauty of Lake Martin in Alabama, I started to see some very interesting similarities between how families grow and evolve in the same way that organizations do.  I have heard these two phrases many times and I believe they are both true to a large degree:

  • Grow or Die
  • You are never standing still; you either move ahead or fall behind

Let’s take a look this morning at how families and organizations or businesses are the same.

  • Families need succession plans and so do organizations
    • If your family does not grow through the birth or adoption of children, the family will eventually die out.  Organizations also need new “children” or members to lead the flock when the current leaders pass on.  Thinking about and planning for these additions is crucial and not planning is one way to end up in a place you may not want at some future date
  • The best made plans will need to change
    • Even when you make your plan, it will probably need to change.   We have limited control on those things that are close to us, and our ability to control the external environment is minimal at best.  Just when you think you have things figured out, there will be a change.  Having a plan is important; reviewing and adjusting your plan is essential.
  • Take the time to prepare the next generation of your family or business
    • Our sons are now 26 and 24.  I remember the day that each was born and I have many wonderful memories of things we have done together along the way.  It has been rare that we have ever sat down and had a discussion about a specific subject out of context.  Life is the context that allows conversation and learning to evolve and that experience is where people grow and learn.  Make sure you spend time with your children when they are young and even when they grow older.  They have much to learn from you and I know that I learn from them every time we are together.  Each one of us has a different report card in life and what you measure will depend upon what you value.  The same holds true for your business.  Your future leaders will grow and evolve based on the experience and the oversight you provide.  Classroom training is helpful, but experience is the key.  Having a solid mentor or advocate along the way can be the difference between success and failure.
  • Celebrate the good times when they occur
    • Families and businesses both have good times and bad.  No one likes the bad times, but they provide an opportunity to reflect, understand and move forward in a new way.  Good times are sometimes overlooked and they can provide methods to recognize and celebrate great accomplishments.  Never pass up a chance to smile, dance, hug and celebrate.  There will be times when you want to move on, but you never know what impact you might have by making someone feel special or honored when they have a momentous occasion.

Families and businesses have many similarities and you can learn much from one that will apply to the other.  I would encourage extreme caution when the two become intertwined.  This provides a new set of dynamics that will not be covered in today’s post, but when they do mix, be prepared.

Take time to celebrate the good times, mourn the sad times, and always look ahead while thinking about how far you have come together.