Family businesses need to get serious about startups..and appoint a liaison officer

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Family businesses are missing a big opportunity if they don’t take startups seriously and they need to appoint a senior manager as a point of contact for these founder-led companies, according to a prominent academic.

Nadine Kammerlander, chair of family business and academic director of the Institute of Family Business at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany, says family businesses and startups actually have much more in common than they might think they do. They should realise this and cooperate more, says Kammerlander in a Viewpoint for Family Capital.

Kammerlander came to the conclusion that the two business groups have much more in common after hosting a panel at WHU with founders of startups. “We recently invited five founders to talk on a panel about their views on family businesses. Surprisingly, from their insights, there are actually many similarities between the two,” says Kammerlander.

But one big factor stood out as hindering greater cooperation with family businesses as far as startups were concerned – a lack of transparency when it came to dealing with them.

The panellists said: “When we approach a family business we never really know who is the right person to talk to. Often you waste so much time to find the real decision maker at these businesses.” Kammerlander says family businesses should take this criticism on board and appoint a senior manager to liaise with startups.

“This will speed up the process of cooperation and will help grow a very lucrative relationship between the two. And in the process, they will realise the two have more in common when it comes to running their businesses than they originally thought,” says Kammerlander.