"We have seen the impact of regulation on carbon emissions in helping accelerate innovations in electric vehicles," says van Rij, "and new European data privacy laws will spawn a new subsector of startups focused on helping companies comply with these stringent new regulations."
Almost one in five family business leaders is increasing innovation by building external alliances (17%). These external alliances can take many shapes, from project-based collaboration, to whole supply chain ecosystems. Other companies are systematically scanning the horizon for start-ups that can accelerate their innovation strategy.
"We recently teamed up with Foresight Group, an investment manager, to create a £20m seed fund," says Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering, part of the UK-based Grand Prix Engineering firm. "The idea is to identify and invest in companies that will benefit from our expertise and Foresight’s financial acumen."
As the pace of change ramps up, company agility becomes more critical to survival and growth. Globally, CEOs rate rapid decision-making as the number one factor in improving agility (27% of responses) and family business leaders are the same.
“Owners of family businesses are tightly linked with the management and execution of strategy,” says Thomas Zellweger, Professor of Business Administration with a focus on Family Business at the University of St Galen. “This allows them to make decisions fast and execute on them. However, it is also true that they can wait out periods of uncertainty, waiting for clarity and then acting fast, but later in the cycle.”
Family business executives are responding to accelerated change with one in four (25%) saying they are spending at least half their time on future strategy, eight percent more than their non-family business peers. Of those that agree that even this isn't enough, four in ten (40%) are looking for a wider pool of managers to help take on some operational activities to free them up to focus on the future.
“Family businesses are focused on sustainable growth, protecting the assets of the business in the long term. Decisions are also made with the involvement of fewer people, they are made fast and with a percentage of gut rather than data. In that sense, they are more entrepreneurial. Being long-term focused and entrepreneurial in the same time is a luxury public or non-family owned businesses don’t often have," says Abdulrahman M. AlBassam, of the Middle-Eastern diversified industrial products group that bears his name.