Renewing Entrepreneurship Through The Generations
4th April 2012
In his blog IFB Director General Grant Gordon looks at how two family firms, Timpsons and Radio have incorporated risk taking and innovation in their company culture.
One of the main competitive advantages a family firm can create is developing a powerful entrepreneurial culture, where measured risk taking and innovation are part of the corporate DNA. It’s a theme the IFB has seen crop up again and again during the IFB Family Business Challenges seminars that are currently running across the UK. Owners are concerned about how to maintain innovation and entrepreneurship as a core value across generations. The evidence is when a family business fails to innovate and adapt it often loses its way.
Two examples, one from each side of the Atlantic, demonstrate how family business renewal is achievable.
One well known UK family firm where entrepreneurship was put back into the business is £175m turnover Timpson Group. Only a generation ago its core activity was shoe retailing and the owners had a 'steady-Eddie' approach to business. The incoming generation was more restless and sensed that to be good stewards they had to up the ante in terms of innovation and risk-taking. The business model today thrives on the father-and-son team of John and James Timpson and their ‘upside down’ empowered management culture. The business no longer sells shoes - a decision was taken in the late 80’s to exit this business - throwing up the question what next. Now they offer customers valuable services such as watch repairs, key cutting and dry cleaning.