From the Italian restaurant created with Nonna’s famous recipes passed down through generations to the Fairfax dynasty created by Kerry Packer, family businesses come in every variation and make up a whopping 70 per cent of all Australian businesses – employing more than 50 per cent of the workforce.
The truth is that there are extensive lists of both pros and cons when running a family business, and what works well for some is a potential nightmare for others.
Townsville’s own Jean-Pierre Artisan Bakery, is one such business proving that they have the recipe for family success.
Established in the mid-1980s, when namesake Jean-Pierre Danoy and his family opened Le Café de France in Townsville, this family were the first French pastry chefs and bakers in North Queensland.
Jean-Pierre went on to expand into his own popular boutique bakery franchise with several successful stores across Townsville, then known as Jean-Pierre Patisserie. The retail stores have since ceased trade to allow Jean-Pierre and his team to focus on the growth of the wholesale side of the business.
Jean-Pierre’s daughter, Adeline Griffin, has now joined the team as Operations and Marketing Manager, and as with many family run businesses, the pair are finding the balance between work and home life.
Adeline explains that the pros have so far outweighed the cons, and the experience has strengthened her relationship with her Father.
“I have gotten to know my Dad in a different way and discovered things I never knew about him,” she said.
“We are both very similar in the way we work, although we have similar personalities; we can drive each other crazy at times – we spend a LOT of time together.”
Jean-Pierre said their similar thought processes were an advantage to working together.
“We know each other’s personalities extremely well. We’re both passionate about the business and want to succeed.” Adeline agrees adding “Family members are always going to have more of a vested interest in the business and how well it does.”
Although Adeline is very new to the business, she says she has already learned a lot from her Father.
“He has a wealth of knowledge and experience from being in the business for so long,” she said.
“I’ve learnt that there are many solutions to a problem and that they aren’t always obvious – think outside the square. Multitasking and prioritising is key.”
Adeline said the pair try their best to keep work at work, although “this can be very difficult at times.”
“We would like to think that we work quite well together, even though we can sometimes get a little heated in our exchanges,” she laughs. “Communication is key, you have to do your best to keep your work and family life separate, but you need to still have fun at work.”
Research group McCrindle predicts that more than $3 trillion will change hands in Australia over the next 10 years as ageing baby boomers pass their estates to their heirs – some of that wealth being tied up in the family business.
So, what are some tips on how family businesses can run smoothly?
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) has put together these 10 tips for family enterprises:
Leave work at work and home at home.
Have clear roles for each family member.
Pay the award rate to all family members who work there.
Use outside advisors for unbiased advice.
Have a good management structure – don’t confused ownership or inheritance with management.
Be open with communication – both good and bad news must be shared.
Clearly outline the entry and exit conditions for family members involved with the business from the beginning.
Develop a succession plan and make sure that all parties agree on the transfer of ownership.
Hold regular meetings and family ‘retreats’.
Use mentors and family business forum groups as a sounding board.