How Aussie family businesses are building resilience and adaptability

- February 5, 2024 3 MIN READ


One thing Australian family-owned businesses have in common is resilience. Often thriving across multiple generations, successful family-owned businesses have proven they can not only weather challenges but come out stronger on the other side, writes Scott Wiltshire, vice president and general manager, Oracle NetSuite ANZ.

With that being said, leaders of businesses (big and small) will have to work smarter than ever to achieve their goals and remain resilient in 2024.

Facing external pressures, like elevated interest rates and high energy prices, creating new efficiencies, and extracting maximum value from every dollar spent will be a top priority. After making headlines in 2023, AI might seem like an obvious solution – and it can be – but there are many more tools that can help boost resilience.

Four ways family owned businesses can drive efficiency, productivity, and growth

Look at the numbers

Business owners can only manage what they can measure, and success requires knowing the numbers. Having complete visibility of business operations — from performance metrics to supply chain data — will be the key to helping owners uncover ways to do more with less.

It’s important to ensure this business data is accurate and accessible if they plan to use technology (including AI) to automate processes and expand insights. Even incremental improvements to efficiency and productivity can help family-owned businesses overcome short-term financial pressures, but the journey starts with generating high-quality business data.

Simplify systems and processes

When it comes to technology tools, often less is more. Over time, businesses of all sizes can accumulate a variety of tools designated to do one thing. And while they may be good tools on their own, many businesses add plug-ins and apps to expand capabilities as they grow.

Very quickly, these disparate pieces of software that the business selected to improve efficiency wind up making it less efficient. Employees are often forced to synthesize data from numerous systems using manual workarounds, which delays insight and can lead to costly errors.

Where possible, family businesses should look to consolidate disparate tools into a single source of truth. Bringing together data from all functions across the business, can help maximise return on investment, deepen customer relationships, and spark opportunities for future growth.

Allocate your people for efficiency in your family business

Teams that are bogged down in low-value, manual tasks are less efficient and less innovative. In addition, completing tasks manually can introduce errors, compromising the accuracy and reliability of critical data.

Automation eliminates the need for manual completion of such tasks and allows teams to focus on more strategic functions that provide greater value to the business. Employees can be matched to more meaningful work that is aligned to their specific talents and interests, meaning that employers can create a more engaged and productive workforce.

Adapt and innovate (if it makes sense to do so)

To ensure the longevity of a family business, it’s important to balance factors like legacy and tradition with innovation and adaptability. Business leaders should stay attuned to market shifts to understand how these changes can impact their business, and develop a plan to either capitalise on the opportunity or mitigate the threat, as appropriate.

This might require a small paradigm shift for family businesses driven by tradition, but it doesn’t need to be a wild gamble. With a proactive outlook, concrete data, and consideration of the values that have contributed to success over the years, business leaders can decide to act – or not – at the right time.

Now is the time for family-owned businesses to look for ways to improve efficiency and productivity. A renewed focus on the numbers, simplified systems, and efficient team allocation are crucial steps, while adaptability is key to weathering economic uncertainty. With intelligent planning, family-owned businesses can continue building sustainable businesses that can be passed down to future generations when the time is right.

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