I believe that family businesses and social enterprises should be the standard for doing business successfully. Companies have a responsibility that goes beyond the interests of shareholders, based on the standards and values of corporate social responsibility.
Entrepreneurship with attention to the three P’s, people, planet and profit should in my view be at the basis of every healthy company. In the long run, I am convinced that companies that do not use this triple-bottom line will not survive. That is why I have set myself to use my knowledge and experience for family businesses and social enterprises.
THE POWER OF FAMILY BUSINESSES
We live in a time when the world is constantly changing: the digital revolution, the Y generation’s entry into management positions, the rise of the reputation economy. In family businesses, standards and values and corporate ethics are often highly developed. These are a guide and help the company to keep the right course despite challenges and changes. It’s crucial to keep going, which is the family business spirit. Joining new developments without losing sight of risks.
Family companies are often more focused on the long term, they are pursuing more than just profitability. They are committed to all their stakeholders in the long run; customers, employees, suppliers and the environment / society in which they are active. The concept of sustainability, involving the various players and elements in business, has traditionally been integrated into family businesses.
THE WORLD BEHIND THE FIGURES
My experience as an entrepreneur and commissioner allows me to follow the world behind the figures. Figures are clear indicators for driving a company, but there are also underflows that you need to watch as a member of the Supervisory Board. These are employees, suppliers, customers or even governments that may directly or indirectly affect business results.
SHAREHOLDER VALUE VERSUS STAKEHOLDER VALUE
Since the 2008 crisis, the American model of maximizing shareholder value has become heavily criticized. My belief is that it is about maximizing the stakeholder value, which will contribute to the continuity of the company. Customer satisfaction, employee loyalty and a good relationship with the community in which you are active are, in my view, a prerequisite for a successful business.
Social entrepreneurship, especially internationally, is a growing phenomenon. Social affairs represents a social mission, and earning money is a means of achieving that mission, creating social impact. The values of social entrepreneurs are generally close to the values of family businesses. I endorse the vision and principles of social entrepreneurship and translate them into “ordinary” companies. What steps are required to make the transition from “profit oriented” to social enterprise? How do we get sufficient support from the organization? This is a long-term, often not simple task, but when it succeeds, the impact and satisfaction are even bigger.
THE NEXT GENERATION
There are quite a few tensions within the family business between the current and the new generation leaders. New generations want change, improvement, innovations. The Sitting Generation is usually satisfied with the way the company is managed.
One of my activities currently in our own family business is to prepare and guide the next generation of leaders and shareholders for their task. Discovering talent in the new generation in the family is an interesting challenge. Which role is best for which family member and how can we manage this person optimally to make his / her talent fully bloom so that one day …
This allows me to assume an intermediate role between the current and the next generation leaders, understanding both sides and gaining insights based on ‘the best of both worlds’.