Would we be wrong to think that the past 24 months have damaged the confidence of business leaders? “We were expecting a number of bankruptcies, soaring unemployment, sluggish activity… And we have just the opposite! The observation of Jean-Michel Mousset, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the eponymous transport and logistics group, reminds us that crises are paradoxical.
Led by Audencia, the second study* by the National Observatory of Family Entrepreneurship conducted among 500 managers, half of whom are at the head of family businesses, reveals that 9 out of 10 managers say they are confident about the economic future. of their business over the next 5 years. An optimistic vision that is confirmed especially when a family owns the business.
Resilient, family businesses generally get through crises better than their sisters whose capital is not held by families. In difficult periods, they adapt durably and quickly: they know how to restore the balance shaken by the crisis by transforming themselves.
A balance all the more quickly restored as family businesses tend to closely monitor their cash flow and their managers can rely on a short decision-making circuit to act and react. A capacity that they must also mobilize again to manage the possible consequences of the war in Ukraine on their activity. “With a tighter governance, made up of a few family members, the decision-making processes are more efficient”, assures Philippe Grodner, president of the Family Business Network France (FBN). An asset that also allows them to commit to social and environmental responsibility (CSR) and innovation, during and after the crisis.
CSR, a real lever for competitiveness
The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the performance of CSR policies for 81% of business leaders interviewed in the study. A subject on which consumers have become increasingly demanding. Family businesses were already the most advanced in this area before the crisis. Today, their leaders openly claim responsible commitment (for 50% of family business owners) and well-being at work (for 73%) as strategic priorities. Choices which reinforce the level of confidence of the employees as well as their feeling of belonging to the company.
The new generations of family business leaders play an important role in accelerating this movement: they bring a fresh perspective to the reinvention of the business plan and want to promote new ways of working. Good news on the human resources front, since this is how they retain employees in difficult times and attract new talent to develop, particularly in the buoyant but tense areas of digital and innovation.
A crisis driving innovation
80% of the family businesses questioned consider that they have developed their capacity for innovation much more than in the past. Some companies have seen it as an opportunity to reinvent themselves around new ways of working, but have also found new business models or distribution methods.
When the family culture supports the entrepreneurial culture, for example by valuing those who take initiatives without fear of failure, it becomes possible to develop projects of an entrepreneurial nature more quickly and to find quick solutions in each situation.
* Second edition of the National Observatory of Family Entrepreneurship, “Family businesses and Covid: what trends for the world after? , from Audencia in partnership with Family Business Network France.