In this series of articles, we talk to Dani Saveker, founder of Families in Business and the mastermind of Beyond Business; the first Families in Business Summit. Dani explains the thinking behind the event and what sets it apart from other business forums.
Dani, what was it that inspired you to launch the Families in Business Summit; what’s the thinking behind the event?
Having been part of a family enterprise myself, I’ve long felt that alignment is imperative – across various levels of an organisation. As the founder of Families in Business I now work at a deep level with family enterprises and they often tell me how they feel ‘stuck’. This can be due to market conditions, succession planning issues or just that their relationships within the business are challenging. However, experience has shown that to resolve the symptoms present in a business you have to understand the root cause, and that can be hard. We’re launching the Beyond Business Summit to do just that, to go beyond business and understand the fundamental issues at play.
Families in Business is all about helping to transform lives and align relationships; supporting what is a critical component of the UK and global economy and so we built the campaign ‘Beyond Business’ to drill into the challenges being faced in today’s changing landscape and to provide ways to help family enterprises overcome these. That’s what sits behind the research in our Annual Guide and also the Summit. In addition, we know how isolated and alone it can feel when running a family enterprise and so coming together as a community can be the missing element for so many in this situation.
When you were planning the Summit, who were you building it for?
Specifically, it’s for family and executives in the business but also those on the edges of the business. The influences around family enterprise are wide ranging and so we feel it’s important to support everyone. Our focus is built around the mid-market as this remains unsupported, especially in family enterprises, but in terms of who the Summit would suit it would be equally valuable for professional advisers who work with family enterprises as they need to better understand and work with the challenges as well as anyone facing decisions and challenges directly.
How will you know it has been a success?
That’s a good question! For me, success will be people leaving and feeling they’ve had the light bulb moment and gained a sense of support and new ways of tackling challenges. I firmly believe the two days will transform people and their businesses. It will open eyes and help them to really understand how to live the life they want. I personally feel that much of the work and advice available to family enterprises is empty and doesn’t work at a deep enough level. The world is changing. Business is changing. Families are changing. It’s time for new thinking and new approaches. The fact that we still have 95% of family enterprises without succession plans shows there’s a lot of work to do and what exists today for this demographic isn’t addressing the issues.
So why should people invest in attending this event, rather than the many other networking forums out there?
The issues and dynamics within family enterprises are unique – yes, they do face all of the other business issues too and I’ve certainly attended my fair share of really great, business based events but not one of these has addressed the secret elements of family enterprise. As an example, we run highly specialised peer groups and members explain that they can talk truthfully and openly without fear of judgement, need of explanation or reject ideas that may be logical but would never work with family and emotions. The creation of a safe and understanding environment for family enterprises is vital. We can then laugh at the bizarre things that happen, share the painful challenges and provide support around what to do.
The event is not built to deliver or dump information but more to open new ways of thinking and explore using new ideas and techniques which our experience proves work in this highly specialised sector.