Much of the literature and buzz around best practices seems to presume that there is a universal business model or family governance structure that fits everything.  Personally, I haven’t found that to be true; so I generally do not recommend that a client, business, or family run out and adopt the latest and greatest approach to anything.  In fact, the greater the hype, the more likely I am to want to move away from it.  There’s something about a herd mentality that makes me want to wave the caution flag.

Instead of looking at another person’s idea of the best practices for business (or family governance) models in general, focus on finding the best practices for your particular set of circumstances.  From a business model perspective, that means knowing why you’re in business and what outcomes meet your definition of success.  Some practices work well in one culture, and just create strife and discord in another. 

Consider using these guidelines for selecting the “best practices” for your business.  They will help you make better use of principal resources:  People, Time, and Money.  You may be tempted to say “I want all three.”; but choosing to be all three simultaneously almost guarantees that you will become a herd member rather than a herd leader.  So, take a look at these three options, choose one, and then you will know what best practices are likely to best fit your organization:

  1. We define success as being a highly efficient company focused on limited customer/client choices that appeal mostly to the price conscious.  If that’s true, then build your processes, policies, and procedures around that value proposition.  Spend a minimal amount of money on building close personal relationships with clients.  Market your “pricing” ability.  A local merchant with this approach advertises that “You’ve said it and we believe it.  Price sells!”

  2. We define success as being an innovative and creative company that can put products and services in place that tap into the previously unknown and unmet needs and wants of the marketplace.  If that’s true, then you need to be putting people, time, and money into product/service research and development.  Market everything as “new and improved” or as the leading edge of whatever line of business you happen to have.  Your target market likes and wants “change”. 

  3. We define success as being trusted advisors and consultants to prospects, customers, and clients who want a great deal of personal time and attention from their vendors and suppliers.  You probably chafe a little at being thought of as a vendor or supplier because that implies a more distant relationship than you want.  So, your best practices are going to focus on maintaining a level of customer intimacy that the more operational efficient would find unnecessary. 

Once you decide whether you are Door 1, Door 2, or Door 3, you will be able to recognize what “best practices” are most appropriate for you.  Choosing the “best practices” helps you identify what business processes and procedures will help you better achieve your goals.  Then, you will have a greater comfort level in knowing that you are doing things the right way.

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