A recap of the 21st Family Business Conference

It was a lovely start to the spring season to pack our suitcases and head to Melbourne for our fifth attendance of the Family Business Australia conference. Being a family business ourselves, it was our accounting and advisory firm that originally recommended that we join Family Business Australia (FBA) and through that membership we have developed so many great relationships, and attended many wonderful events. Of those, the conference is always an annual calendar highlight.

This year was a record with just shy of 500 attendees, much to our delight after working with FBA to deliver the conference marketing strategy and branding for the Future Proofing your Family Enterprise themed event. 

The calibre of both attendees and presenters is what makes the conference such a standout, and we enjoyed hearing from some amazing businesses such as Costa Group, Brown Family Wine Group, Ferguson Plarre, Ray White, Yellow Brick Road, Whole Kids, and KeepCup.

BECOMING CUSTOMER OBSESSED

A highlight for us this year was the opportunity for Tiny Hunter to deliver a session on ‘Becoming Customer Obsessed. It’s a privilege to be amongst a great line-up of speakers and there’s nothing we love more than an opportunity to share our knowledge on how to build successful brands for the long term. Our session was followed by an interactive workshop so delegates could start applying the thinking to their own businesses.

Key takeaways:
  • The power of starting with a deep understanding of the needs of your customer and their core ‘problem to solve’.
  • Building your business around your purpose and meaningful points of difference.
  • Communicating both the rational and emotional benefits of your product or service to connect on a deeper level.
  • Mapping out your customer journey as a way to uncover opportunities to really show your customer that you care.

AWARDS NIGHT

Affectionately known by many as ‘the Logies of family business’ awards, the Forum in Melbourne was packed to the rafters for the family business night of nights. A huge congratulations to all the winners.

Key takeaways:
  • There are many amazing family businesses in this country, well deserving of the recognition they get through this event.
  • FBA (as we do know) puts on an incredible event, in this case with a special guest performance by a sparkling Anthony Callea.
  • This crowd likes to party, If you do not provide a dance floor they WILL flood the stage! Most likely led by smooth moving CEO Greg Griffith.

KEYNOTE – 12th generation de Dietrich family

The conference concluded with two fantastic keynotes, the first was an interview with Gaetan de Dietrich and Catherine de Dietrich by Prof. Dr. Marc-Michael Bergfeld. The de Dietrich legend goes back 335 years and we heard amazing stories across time from their start in cannon balls, to their constant diversification… plus their ties with history such as mixing with French royalty to the French national anthem first ever being performed in their living room during the French Revolution.

The interview really epitomises what I love about family business  – a wonderful mix of business and entrepreneurship but also deep authenticity, intimacy and candidness.

Prof. Dr. Marc-Michael Bergfeld did a superb job in guiding the conversation from which there were many takeaways:

  • Don’t push an agenda under a cover of wisdom.
  • Stay hungry, stay foolish, keep investing.
  • Give guiding principles, not rules.
  • Have healthy, grounded values, for the business and the family.
  • You don’t control anything. Control is an illusion. And on that note – the less control you try and have, the more control you will have. 
  • Don’t give your kids too much money – Nothing teaches like empty pockets, broken hearts and crushed dreams.

KEYNOTE – Mark Bouris – Yellow Brick Road

The incredibly successful Mark Bouris spoke to the topic ‘How Prepared are you for the Challenges the Future Will Bring?’. It was the final talk of the conference and packed full of interesting personal experiences – like what it’s like to deal with an intimidating Kerry Packer – and from those experiences a set of principles to run your business by. A densely packed session filled with immediately applicable, no nonsense advice.

When working together, Mark met with Kerry monthly and from that experience he has developed a set of questions, a ‘playbook’ that he refers to monthly. In Mark’s words ‘we need strict and rigid discipline to overcome the challenges we face in business’.

Key takeaways:
  • What business are you in? You need to really, really know what business you are in. And no, it’s not about what product or service you sell. In the case of Yellow Brick Road they aren’t selling mortgages, they are making dreams a reality.
  • Product and pricing. Is your product properly researched? Have you checked all the others in the market? Do you review the pricing regularly? Are still relevant to the market? Is the packaging best on shelf?
  • How much has been banked? How much has been spent? How much is in the bank? How much are we owed? What do we owe? Answer these questions and you have the financial pulse of your business.
  • Do we have one year’s worth of capital sitting in the bank? If you didn’t earn a dollar for a year you could make it out the other side? 
  • Raise the money when you don’t need it. Because when you need it, you won’t be able to get it. 
  • How is the energy of the business? Mass x speed = energy. Mass is your content – product, people, brand. But it’s worth ‘jackshit’ if there is no speed associated with it. You need younger people in your business – they have speed. Hungry people who want to make change and have new ideas.
  • Do you still believe in this? Do you believe you can make a difference? Do you believe in the business? Is it sustainable?
  • Is it ready for sale? Are you ready to do a deal at any moment? Is it packaged up ready to sell or bring in investment so you can respond quickly when the opportunity arises. 

THE FINALE DINNER

The conference wrapped with the grand finale dinner. A spectacular event with an incredible ‘The Greatest Showman’ performance of dancers, acrobatics and jugglers. One of my favourite things about the Family Business Conference is that this crowd just loves having a great time. It’s always such a wonderful reunion, businesses big and small, people young and old… having a drink, sharing laughs, swapping stories and jumping at any chance to hit the dance floor. 

FBA you have created something very special, a joyful and generous sense of belonging.

Family Business Australia Conference Branding

Family Business Australia Conference - Jodie de Vries and Emma Scott

 

Jodie de Vries

Written by: Jodie de Vries
Published: September 17, 2019
Image: Story National

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