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Challenges Young Entrepreneurs Face In Carrying Forward A Legacy Business

Here are a few challenges every second/third-generation entrepreneur faces:

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There will always be two sides to a coin and two sides to every story. The question here is, is it more difficult to be a first-generation entrepreneur who’s made it big from scratch, by hanging on to the thread of a vision and passion that superseded every obstacle and hurdle, or is it more difficult for his/her successor to sustain the dreams, success, goodwill, reputation and values of his predecessor? 

For a young entrepreneur, though there are many benefits of carrying forward a legacy business, the challenges are far more. In family businesses, the business model has to sail through changing times, technologies, personalities, educations and opinions to eventually be able to reach that one goal every entrepreneur aspires for — profit.

Here are a few challenges every second/third-generation entrepreneur faces:

Changing Perceptions of the Old Vs. New 
Akin to the cycle of evolution, each new confident and enterprising generation thrives on its own set of perceptions vastly different from their older folks. The approach towards business, people management, expansion, core values and particularly technology between two generations could be as distinct as chalk and cheese, yet both have the same goal in mind — to run a profitable and reputed enterprise. While, for the older generation of businessmen, a handshake or a word given was as good as any binding legal contract, the newer lot wants everything sealed in black and white. The challenge with that is that young entrepreneurs find it difficult to take forward their family businesses on the basis of their goodwill. 

Technology is another huge roadblock for the old blood vis-a-vis the new. Implementing any new system or digitizing an old system in the supply chain process often results in a pushback from the older generation, who fail to understand what the fuss is all about. After all, they started and ran a business successfully without technology for years!

Dynamically Evolving Trends In Fashion and Customer preferences In the Age of The Internet Young entrepreneurs have to constantly keep pace with the ever-changing customer requirements and trends, something the older generation never had to grapple with. Fashion is one sector that’s always been a hotbed for innovation having quickly evolved from the sewing machine to the ascent of web-based graphics, design and cut. The way in which a buyer makes his choice has rapidly transformed: he stands in a store, uses his/her smartphones to compare prices and product reviews and takes instant feedback from family and friends via social media. That’s not all, he/she has an ever-growing list of online retailers delivering products directly to them, sometimes on the same day! Entrepreneurs today don't only concern themselves with one aspect of their business, like their predecessors, they have to know about each and every facet their business touches, and that can be overwhelming, to say the least. 

Online Retail Vs. Old Distribution Setup
Everything for the old-world first-generation businessmen was based in and around the real world unlike their successors, who’re increasingly dealing only with the virtual world. A big challenge in running a family business is how do you undo what your predecessor did with the business in the real world and redo it to fit in with the more demanding online, virtual platform? The old, traditional distribution set-up through brick and mortar stores is being replaced by e-retail modes of bringing products to the consumers. A degree in or a deep knowledge of technology has almost become sacrosanct to running any business in the country and something second/third generation entrepreneurs have to know in addition to what their fathers/mothers taught them about the business. 

More Competition Now Than Before
The footwear industry is a very mature industry and consists of some big players. While my father’s shoe business was among a handful of shoe businesses at that time in the late 1960s, I have to keep myself abreast with what international brands as well as a host of domestic brands are doing at any given time. Competition is cut-throat and we’re all competing for pricing, share-of-wallet of the customer, other aspects like marketing campaigns, brand ambassadors, product proliferation and branding!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Mayank Lakhani

The author is Managing Director, Lakhani Infinity Footcare

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