Starting your family business is a period of excitement, chance, and perseverance. Once your business has survived this initial creation period, your business’ leadership and employees must maintain an opportunist mindset to ensure further success. Resting on one’s past success is not an option. An opportunist is someone who makes full use of his or her surrounding circumstances to gain an advantage rather than focusing solely on plans that are consistent with past performance.
Maintaining an opportunist mindset means your business must be innovative, eager to reinvent, and open to change.
The author of Interrupted Entrepreneurship, Ramez A. Baasari, tells the story of four multigenerational family businesses that all maintained the opportunist mindset. Although each family business provided a different service or product, came from different areas in the world, and faced unique interruptions, they were all able to experience success by embracing and engineering change.
Instead of being fearful of their interruptions, these family businesses maneuvered interruptions with confidence, grace, and acceptance. For example, the family business John Brooke & Sons Holdings Ltd., founded in 1541, is the oldest surviving family business in the UK. For most of its history, it was known for its quality woolen textiles. Unfortunately, World War II diminished the value and use of woolen textiles as the cotton industry emerged. Accordingly, Brooke & Sons faced an interruption – society no longer relied heavily on woolen textiles. With no time to dwell on the end of an era, Brooke & Sons transformed their 200,000-square-foot physical space into a renovated complex featuring office spaces for small companies. This transformation was so successful that Brooke & Sons has continued to prosper and even to search for additional open spaces to renovate.
In conclusion, although Brooke & Sons is a unique example of the opportunist mindset, the message from their narrative is clear – know your strengths, anticipate change and always be prepared to adapt. Brooke & Sons saw their physical assets as a strength and adapted their business accordingly to stay successful in a new business environment.