Being a small-town ordinary girl from Kerala but born and brought up in Coimbatore, I had simple dreams of getting married and settling down happily ever after. However, things progressed a little differently, thanks to my father who encouraged me to join the family business.
Initially, I was a little hesitant to join the family business but now I enjoy it, despite the stress and hard work that each day brings. Not only has it given me the opportunity to learn about my strengths and weaknesses, but also, every day is about learning, utilising and managing resources, multitasking, problem-solving and decision-making. Everyday, I meet new people and through this professional journey, I am being groomed and moulded to face society more boldly and confidently. This has immensely helped me to grow in my personal life too. Learning and acquiring knowledge are important in every person’s life. The learning curve should always be trending upwards, irrespective of one’s age.
Drawing on my own example and experience, I want to address individuals interested in taking up a family business, and I particularly want to urge women to not think twice before choosing this path, because I believe they make better managers. The tips below reflect my experiences and learnings in a family business. They can be useful for budding entrepreneurs who aspire to take over a manufacturing business or any form of B2B or SME.
- Observe, analyse and implement – As soon as you join the family business, don’t get excited and start implementing your own ideas. Take your time to understand the business and its organisational flow. Observe each department and their activities. Analyse each employee’s responsibility, nature and work ethic. Then gradually start implementing your ideas to improve the organisational flow and overall efficiency.
- Mistakes and stress – Avoid unnecessary tension and stress by firing at your employees when they make a mistake and instead try to explain how it is going to affect the organisation. If the mistake is repeated several times, then issue a final warning. Yes, this has worked for me. Analyse the root cause of every problem and determine what corrective actions can be implemented to prevent the same from happening in the future.
- Data security – Often SMEs neglect data security. Data theft is one of the biggest threats to businesses today. There are many software tools available in the market, which are simple to use and do not require skilled IT personnel to install.
- Work-life balance – This is important for all entrepreneurs. Personal and professional life are two streams. When you balance both, you will be more peaceful from within, better able to concentrate, and more capable of producing results, for both streams. Otherwise you will mess up. Plan your work and work your plan.
- Awareness – Being an entrepreneur, you should be shrewd, observant and aware of everything happening within and around your organisation.
- Meetings – Schedule regular meetings with your employees to review company performance and productivity, and identify areas for improvement.
- Motivation – Appreciation and recognition are major factors that motivate employees to work even harder. It can be either a monetary or non-monetary reward, but appreciate and reward their work.
- Marketing – Treat each customer like a king. Make customers feel like they are a valued part of your business and maintain regular contact with them. Here are some additional tips on marketing, which may help to build your business.
a) Relationship marketing. This trend focuses on building loyalty through customer satisfaction. Aim for long-term business relationships rather than one-time or short-term sales.
b) Customer engagement. Send monthly newsletters to customers about your products, so that they recall your brand. Once in a while, during festivals, send good wishes to your customers by email. Add a special touch with a personal note from the management or directors. Make it your duty to thank customers for their business.
c) Digital marketing. Businesses need to invest in having a strong online presence. Use various digital platforms to advertise your product effectively. SEO, website, blogs, and online trade portals are some of the best ways to market your business online. Of course, the traditional forms of marketing – face-to-face interactions, print media, etc – still matter and can be helpful, especially for B2B.
Being an entrepreneur makes you feel good. I strongly recommend every individual whose family owns a business to get involved and grow it further. As new generations enter the business, the management style will change in many ways, so don’t be afraid to take it up. If you are a woman, I say, “Don’t hold back. Go for it. Women make better managers.”
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)