100 Year Company Blog
I stood beside Dr. Camille Rutherford of Brock University at the Ultimate Gaming Challenge in Niagara Falls early in May. We watched two young guys perform in front of an Xbox, guiding a virtual raft down what looked like a rugged tributary of the Amazon.
“I’m interested in how games can help families in the transition process” I said to her. “What do you think?” Dr. Rutherford pointed to the two boys. “Those two boys just met today. Now they are learning communication, co-operation and team work as they try to survive obstacles and achieve a mutual goal.”
A portfolio manager I work with on a regular basis has the credo “pay attention to the risks and the returns will look after themselves”. When we work with business families that credo could be paraphrased “pay attention to the family and the business will look after itself”.
The fact is a family business, with family members working together in some harmony for the common good has a competitive edge and a strength that helps it survive tough times and thrive when times are good.
Fear is a primal motivator in human beings and a major factor why most business owners haven’t done any succession planning. It’s hard for people who have spent a career building a business to think about stopping. Not building anymore; it goes against their instincts.
I stood Saturday evening beside a Salvation Army Kettle in a big shopping center in Niagara. I was there as a volunteer from my Kiwanis Club to assist the Salvation Army with their traditional Christmas fund raiser. It’s fun to watch the people go by, and to thank the ones who stop and put their contribution in the round glass “kettle”.
My father used to tell me that a socialist is someone who loves humanity but hates people. I think of that line sometimes as I hear of the increasing predominance of regulation in our society. In the last few weeks I have heard of the coming regulation of farmers in Ontario that may consign Niagara’s family owned fruit-stands to history, of a hospital laying off nurses and a hiring director of marketing and of mandated changes in mutual funds forms, not to protect the public, but to increase the efficiency with which financial advisors can be prosecuted.