Book Review  

Book Review: Your Business, Your Family, Their Future

Book Review: Your Business, Your Family, Their Future

Your Business, Your Family, Their Future: How to Ensure Your Family Enterprise Thrives for Generations by Emily Griffiths-Hamilton. Published by Figure 1 Publishing.

So many books have been written about the management of family businesses that it is sometimes hard to believe there is anything new to say.

It is therefore a considerable achievement that Emily Griffiths-Hamilton’s new book is a very readable, insightful and practical analysis of the wide variety of complex and interrelated issues faced by business-owning families.

In most countries, family businesses are enormously important to the economy, contributing 70-90 per cent of GDP and 50-80 per cent of jobs. However, they are notoriously difficult to sustain after the passing of the founder and, remarkably, only 10 per cent survive to the third generation.

For those readers new to the subject, they will be amazed at the breadth and depth of thinking required to maximise the prospects of a family business surviving through several generations.

It is not just about the business, but more about the family itself; the impact of the business on the family and family relationships, as well as the impact of the family on the running of the business.

For those already familiar with the subject, there are many themes that will ring true; perhaps most importantly the need for building trust and common understanding within the family itself, involving well-planned family communications and decision-making processes that help them to unite behind a shared vision and purpose for the family wealth.

In particular, the reasons for the business continuing in family ownership need to be defined and agreed, together with the broad objectives.

The role of the family in its management must be agreed, together with rules for family members becoming employees; a structure for dealing with problems and conflicts; and a process for deciding when and whether the business should be sold.

To all these familiar themes, Ms Griffiths-Hamilton brings fascinating insights from her own experience, being the third generation of an entrepreneurial family and a major investor in some very successful enterprises, who has also advised numerous other business-owning families.

Even those steeped in the theory of family business will not only find this an excellent refresher, but will also find nuggets of wisdom and practical experience.

Michael Maslinski is a partner at Stonehage Fleming