Taking over the family business can be a real turning point, with many variables and questions. Should you follow in the footsteps of those who led before you? Do you maintain the status quo? Is now the time to leave your own mark? Is this opportunity right for you at this stage in your career?
To answer these questions, we speak with Cara Macklin, Founder and Chief Disruption Officer of Caram. Cara is a Next-Gen Entrepreneur who grew up in a second-generation family business in Northern Ireland.
In 2019, having contributed to a sizable increase in revenue, with staff numbers more than doubling and several awards under her belt, she decided to leave the family business. In 2020, Cara launched her own business, Caram, to help Next-Gen family entrepreneurs globally innovate and scale to stay ahead and forge their own paths.
Get in touch
If you would like to find out more about how we can help you as a family business, please do not hesitate to get in touch by clicking the button below and Natalie or a member of the team will contact you.
Get in touch
Cara Macklin: We are all very different human beings. I probably did try to maybe be more like my mother in the business because I thought that was the role I should play, and that was not successful. You can't be the best version of anyone else, you can be the best version of yourself.
Natalie Wright: You are listening to the Exploring Family Business podcast, brought to you by Mazars. I'm your host, Natalie Wright, head of Family Business at Mazars UK. Having worked extensively with family businesses for a number of years, I'm keen to support this valuable sector of our society. At Mazars, we believe there is nothing more personal than a family business. Every family and every business are unique. We look forward to sharing knowledge, insights, and practical tips for those navigating the unique issues that arise from being in business with family. Now on with this week's show.
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the Exploring Family Business podcast with Mazars. Having the opportunity to take over the family business can be a real turning point. It creates a crossroads where many next-gen leaders need to decide what their future holds. Should you follow in the footsteps of those who led before you, and do you maintain that status quo because the business has survived well enough to this point, or is now the time to leave your own mark? If so, how do you ensure that you stay true to the values that the firm was built on while scaling the business for growth in your own vision?
For many, the pull of the family business on both a personal and professional basis can bring security but also expectations. Is this an opportunity you really want? Today, I'm joined by Kara Macklin, Founder and Chief Disruption Officer at Caram. Cara, a next-gen entrepreneur, grew up in a second-generation family business in Northern Ireland. At age eight, she started her first self-proclaimed unsuccessful business venture, making jewelry from home.
At 15, she was operating her first profitable business running buses to local nightclubs. After 15 years then spent in various director roles at her family's multimillion-pound healthcare and hospitality business, Cara found a true passion for innovation, disrupting the healthcare industry by creating Ireland's first lifestyle care home, and implementing the development program to support the growth of the senior leadership team.
In 2019, having contributed to a sizable increase in revenue, with staff numbers more than doubling, and with a number of awards under her belt, her biggest personal and professional decision came when she decided to leave the family business, believing her journey could help other next-gen family entrepreneurs make a positive impact. In 2020, she launched her own business, Caram. She founded Caram with one single goal in mind, helping next-gen family entrepreneurs globally innovate and scale to stay ahead and forge their own path. Cara, thank you so much for joining us today.
Cara: Natalie, thank you so much for having me.
Natalie: Just reading through the background of everything that you've achieved, just to this point, I guess reinforces what I'm sure we're going to be picking up on today, that true entrepreneurial spirit that you've clearly have. A business at eight years old, that's an interesting one. Not something we come across very often. How did that go down at school and with your parents?
Cara: My parents started the business. They're entrepreneurs too. I suppose I knew I was never going to do a traditional job. Although my mother was a teacher, first and foremost. My earliest memory of business was being asked at school, what did I want to do when I grew up. I think I was about eight or nine, and I said, "I'm going to buy and run Tommy Girl," because I love fashion and style, and that's obviously what I was going to do. Growing up in the countryside in Northern Ireland, that wasn't a usual response.
I laughed to myself as you were reading that out, that the first business, making jewelry, lost money. My mother very nicely took me to a lovely shop I like with beads, and I would be pretty creative. The first lesson there is, "Don't depend on family and friends to sustain your business," because my mother's friends all bought the jewelry, but once they go, it's like, "Was there anybody actually going to buy this that likes it?" The answer was no. That was the start and end of that business.
Natalie: Brilliant. Great takeaway as well. I wonder, how was it at the time? How did you feel about it not being successful, or was it something that you looked back on at a later point?
Cara: I look back now and laugh. The success for me was getting to buy all these beads and the fact that it was "a business". I probably was bought a lot more beads by my parents than I would have been anyway. Probably was a bit of a success for me in terms of more was spent on the beads than would have been without it.
Natalie: Do you think then that you were always destined for a life in business? I know you alluded to it there, but was there an expectation, or from yourself or even family?
Cara: I think, family very much, do your own thing. There was no pressure at all to come into the family business or do business. I did the traditional thing in Northern Ireland, went to school, did okay, and did pretty well. Could have done different things. When I look back, a lot of the subjects I pick, I wanted to study the market and I did a business degree. I would say there was no pressure to come into the family business at all, but definitely not.
Working now with next-gen entrepreneurs, and it's probably something I'll come into in terms of mistakes, there probably is an unconscious expectation that no one realizes. Would I have done something else if I was in a different family? I don't think so. I love business. I love the impact it can have. I love the impact on people, and on the economy. I love the good it can do, which is very important for me in business. I can't envisage what else I would have done, but I suppose it is shaped by my upbringing as well.
Natalie: Then you went to do a degree in marketing. I'm guessing you brought lots of different skill sets into the family business as well they may not have had at the time. Did you work elsewhere, or was it a step straight into the family business at that point?
Cara: My first role-- Actually, my degree was business and marketing. Again, I'm such a geek, I'd say to myself. I remember 14 sitting in grammar school, listening to a girl older than me talking about working in Marks & Spencer in the food department in those days, still is in my view, but certainly, in those days, Marks & Spencer was very innovative. In terms of quality, they were way ahead of the market in terms of food. I remember at 14, sitting and thinking, "I'm going to get that placement whenever I go to university."
I did get it, so off I had it at 20, I am on my own to London, thinking, "It's only an hour in flight." 20 years ago, leaving the countryside in Northern Ireland to go to London on my own to work in the big corporates, I couldn't even find the front door of the building when I arrived. That was a fair culture shock. I worked there for a year. Then after university, I traveled for a while, I came into the business. Later on, I took a year out because I got a scholarship to do my MBA, and then came back for a few years. Then left completely.
Natalie: You mentioned the unconscious bias before and just thinking obviously, you had some time away. Was that unconscious expectation towards coming into the business, was it on both sides, not necessarily just one generation?
Cara: It's a hard question to answer in terms of my parents. I suppose I would have to ask them. I suppose if I think of my father, to his view it would be, "Why would you go and work for someone else when you've got an opportunity here to make this much bigger and better?" He was very much an entrepreneur. I left school at 14, didn't really see the value of traditional education, and never wanted to work for someone else, which I probably didn't either. Just from a very "common sense approach", why would you go and make someone else's business better and bigger, and stronger whenever you can do it for your own family, and ultimately, you'll be here?
Natalie: Once you stepped into the family business then, what was the integration like? Did you feel that there was any conflict from you entering the family business with other employees, or with other family members, perhaps?
Cara: It was my mom and dad who started the business, and I only have one brother, so he and I started the business on the first day. We very much decided to take different roles in the business. He and I were never in conflict. We had different skill sets. I wouldn't say there was ever a conflict with staff. I have no doubt, and I would have seen it in the undercurrent that some staff-- The first business that I managed at 24 was the oldest business in our group. A lot of the staff were in their 50s and 60s, and 70s actually, and they remember me as a five-year-old child running around. Now all of a sudden, I'm in. It's not easy, I suppose, for anybody.
Natalie: Breaking down those barriers sometimes, especially when there's a personal connection. You mentioned skill sets as well, you and your brother had quite different skill sets. Can you just explain a bit more about that and how you found what you both enjoy?
Cara: I suppose in the early days, in some ways it wasn't really about our skill sets in any family. Next-gens listening to this will know that you go into a role that needs to be done. My first role was we had an office in one of our businesses in terms of finance and operations that needed to be sorted out, and it was a bit of a mess. I went in just to sort out that office for three months because I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do in life. All of a sudden, I was managing this home of 120 staff. I knew I was managing it one day when a member of staff came and asked me something that they would have asked a manager.
Was that the right way to do it? I don't know. When I look back now, would there have been a more formalized, better way to integrate us? Family businesses, we were a lot smaller then, were not formal. I suppose naturally then, my brother and I through the business, in terms of developing the business further, leaned in to what we were good at. I would be very focused on the growth of the business in terms of the people size.
I'm not a good HR person. I don't make any entrepreneurs, but I don't believe you grow a business unless you grow people. The culture, bringing in leadership, training, bringing in a lot of the strategic stuff. Innovation, I would have a huge passion for it, which we'll go on to, I would have done a lot of. My brother would be more on the finance side. He would've developed the business on a financial side and bought some of the strategic levels to allow the business to grow. I suppose that was some way that we separated the rules.
Natalie: We were speaking with another next-gen entrepreneur last week actually, and she was saying a similar thing. She and her sister had quite different natural skill sets and interests. Actually, the way they've been able to complement each other and go their own paths but bring things together just within the family business environment, they probably wouldn't have been able to necessarily get elsewhere. I think that's always an interesting dynamic. You mentioned, again, innovation. I know that's a real passion of yours. How did you start to really look at that and focus on that within the family business that you were operating in? Because I don't think it's necessarily something that people would've associated with innovation. I'm interested to know more about that.
Cara: Interestingly enough, Natalie, I hate the word "innovation". If I could find another more real word, I would, because I think it's massively overused. I'm just constantly in any business looking at how do we improve it. In my view, that is innovation. I get itchy feet. God, I love my team, when I go away for a weekend, and they're like, "What's she coming back with next?" I have the craziest mind in terms of, I come up with 5,000 ideas, and 3 might be practical. In my mind, there is nothing that is not doable. I go to the extremes of how could we turn this upside down, I suppose.
In the early days it was very much, how do we keep improving this business? To give you one example, one of the roles that I created for myself was group procurement manager. It was very simple. We had three businesses, each manager on each site. My parents gave their teams a lot of autonomy, which was the right thing to do, but by default then they were all buying from different suppliers. One supplier, for example, who's given us three different prices because they didn't know it was one business. I looked at that and I just thought in my head, "This is very simple. If you put this together, this should be cheaper."
With no formal training or no procurement of anything, my first phone call to our biggest supplier was, "Look, you don't know this is a group business. You have so many discounts in different places, if you give us a 20% discount across the board, I won't ring your competitor." He rang me back 15 minutes later and says, "Yes, that's no problem." Then I went, "Oh my God, that's £15,000 we've just saved." Now, I had to get a lot more sophisticated in how I did our procurement. For me, there are just always opportunities. Then that transition through, how do I then look at--
I didn't really realize it was a process I was doing, but I thought, "What do we do to take this business to the level?" I believe any business can be world-class, what are people all over the world doing? On the hotel side, when we were developing it, I led the project in terms of how do we take it to a very different level? We looked at different industries and different places all over the world.
I suppose the experience over years. Then when I get into the care home, the lifestyle care home in terms of disrupting healthcare in 2017, I now realize a process that I had created. That's where I then felt that could be used to help other next-gen entrepreneurs in either their own family business or to go off and do their own thing. It probably evolved. By default, I'm a magpie, any conference about disruption all over the world, or speakers, and then combining that with what I say is very old-fashioned, simple ways of doing things in a business to make that happen.
Natalie: Do you feel that the autonomy that you get from perhaps being in a family business at times, that you wouldn't necessarily get in a more corporate-type business has allowed you to explore more of that innovation as well and create those disruptions?
Cara: You definitely do. I think in a family business, you get a much broader experience. One of the things and most of the next-gens I work with are disruptors themselves, hence they are tied into the scaling and the innovation piece. What you do find doing a family business is there is a challenge for those people within the family business because you've generally got-- Every second generation, for example, one of the founders has to be very entrepreneurial. They've created a business. Then they've got another "very entrepreneurial person" coming in behind who potentially wants to shake it up, and do things a bit differently.
That causes challenges. It caused challenges for me in our business in terms of the size of it. On one hand, yes, you get the breadth of experience that you wouldn't get in a corporate. There's autonomy in one way that you wouldn't get in a corporate, but actually, you have to remember whoever the most senior person is in a family in the business, ultimately has control and say.
If they don't like the next person who comes along who wants to do new things and do it a different way, then you don't have autonomy. I think people ask me this a question, and I think unless you're an innovation director in a corporate, would you have more autonomy? I don't know, because I've never been there. I think it's an interesting one. Definitely, our family business is much more flexible, probably more entrepreneurial than a big corporate by the nature of it.
Natalie: What got you here isn't necessarily what will take you forward. That's something we talk about a lot in episode one, Alan Frost touched on that. I guess with so much focus on legacy in the family business as well, and the inevitable personal and blood links that you've got, when you're working with next-gen entrepreneurs, how do you help them find their own path and their authentic self when it comes to thinking about the future of the business and how they want to lead, especially if the previous generation are still involved?
Cara: If I take the first bite, which is how do they be their authentic selves? We are all conditioned by our parents, whether we're in a family business or not. Then you layer on top of that, you go into a family business, so there's more-- I don't mean this in a disrespectful or a bad way, but that's just life, then there's more conditioning. What you need is someone. I say to people, and you could argue it's a bit rich in terms of what I do, but you cannot disrupt that thinking and that conditioning of your own unless you're the complete outsider to the business and someone who's skilled to help you do it.
I still have mentors and coaches in my own business, I've had it my whole life. That's the first thing you need to do. To give you an example, if I worked with someone and that was a bit of work we were doing, and I would say to them, if I gave you three questions, I might ask them, "If this business was gone in the morning, what would you do?" I would say, "What is your earliest memories as a child in terms of what you wanted to do?" Because we go back to-- They talk about the years of naught to seven are the most important.
Then that's when we'd start to adapt to the world, getting into our teenage years. When you really dig back into that, you start to realize there are things that people wanted to do, and actually they've given them up or forgot about them. Then I would say, think about jobs or roles you've done in the past. People talk about motivation. I'm not really a big fan of motivation. I'm more focused on where people get energy from.
I say, "What are the roles or what are the things you've done either in the business, either the business or somewhere else, that give you massive energy that you could do over and over again?" Whether it's in sport, whether it's in their hobby, whether it's in-- There are a lot more questions, but those are three questions just to give people something practical in terms of today that will help you in terms of how authentic you should be or to go back to being authentic.
Natalie: I like that reframing. Not what motivates you, but where do you get your energy from? It totally pivots how you answer it, doesn't it? Do you find them, once you start asking those questions, that as people are thinking beyond the here and now, and actually as you say, going back to what did they previously perhaps have in mind that they'd want to do, what does give them that energy, are they able to extract that move away from thinking about family expectations and think more about what they want to achieve as an individual?
Cara: They are. You start to open up your mind in terms of not just the business, but what other things. I suppose the biggest-- Is it the biggest mistake? One of the mistakes we make in a family business is we try to do it the way our parents did it. I don't mean that in a-- There are certain parts of any business that are absolutely critical never to lose. You talked about the legacy. Again, that takes work with someone in terms of what is the real core and heartbeat of this business? For me, there are parts of culture there.
For example, where we're in hospitality and healthcare, but one of our cores that we were very strong at because my dad's a builder, is our buildings were amazing. Our customer service and our experience were amazing. Our sales and marketing weren't as strong as some of our competitors, but because the first two were so strong, we live in-- Northern Ireland's small place, and our sales and the market didn't have to be. That's not to say going forward that business doesn't have to be much stronger, because now we've got online, now we've got people coming from all over the world, but you have to look at what are the two or three really core things in the business.
Then firstly, I'd written that in my notes actually, the question you asked me, the first thing is what got you here won't get you there. Actually, the way any generation before you did it is not the right way for you to do it because the business is not going to survive. The second way, we are all very different human beings. I probably did try to maybe be more like my mother in the business because I thought that was the role I should play, and that was not successful. You can't be the best version of anyone else. You can be the best version of yourself.
Natalie: Again, it's coming back to that authentic self, isn't it? If you know who you are and what you want to achieve, that's going to set you on the right path rather than following someone else's.
Cara: Do you know what? This seems very simple now, Natalie. I just didn't come up with that overnight in terms of my own-- I go through years of I did this, surely did that role. I did my own coaching training, which was a huge eye-opener for me. It's a process that you're learning. It's not just an overnight so yes I know myself really well, and off I go.
Natalie: You mentioned that you've had mentors and coaches for years. Was that something that you sought? Was it advice you got from someone?
Cara: No, I was always very proactive in terms of I just believe, I came back to the people bit, I just believe if I want to achieve something, go and find the person who's done it the best and got there the quickest.
Natalie: Great advice.
Cara: In business and in my personal life, there are lots of things I want to achieve. It's like a car, a drive for me. If I know someone that can get me there in one hour, why would I take three hours to get there? The coaching bit was in my younger days, coaching, mentors, and consultant was all the same thing. Now I realize they're very different. When the coaching world opened up to me, and then I did my training in that as well, that's a whole different ballgame as well in terms of the person in your mindset and that authenticity in your thinking. Sometimes you need one. Sometimes you need the other. Sometimes you need both.
Natalie: Guess that takes us nicely into 2019 then, and that big decision that you made to leave the family business and go on your own path. Do you mind sharing with us what made you reach that decision and how you dealt with that?
Cara: Sure. In 2015, I got a scholarship to go and do my MBA in London, and go back again. I loved education when I was there, but the minute I left university, it was a world of work for me. I was never studying again, and to go back years later, the brain was not in the academic world, but I really wanted the international experience. I wanted to experience lots of different industries, and I got a scholarship. I thought this is in one of the best universities in London. I thought this is crazy if I don't take this. Looking back now, the decision to leave the family business wasn't a decision. I say it was a process over a long period of time.
It certainly was not an easy decision. My whole life was in that business. We had scaled it when I started from about 250 employees, and when I left it, we had 657 employees. It was pretty scary to leave, and that safety net. I just kept coming back to the resist fire and drive and talking about your authentic self that wouldn't go away in me, which was there are other things in the world you want to do. Just from a very practical point of view, you can't be a director in a business turning that amount of money with that amount of staff and only work three hours a week in it, and go off and spend the rest of the time doing something else.
The other part, I suppose I felt that I was very young starting in business. I had so much business experience, scaling experience, and innovation experience. Then when I did the coaching training, I think I did it in 2016, I could see how the two could fit massively together. I suppose a big purpose of mine, and driver for my business now is, if I help more next-gen entrepreneurs who want to disrupt and want to scale, I'm going to have a bigger impact in the world. I'm very passionate about helping people who want to use their business to do good.
When I did the healthcare, the disruption, was probably the last trigger for me. When I could see what I did there, I thought, if I can do that here and I can help 10 of these people in a next-gen circle together from different industries and speed up their journey, my impact on the world and on society, on humanity is going to be tenfold. That's a very deep driver, but on a very practical level, I just felt I had the experience that I could help people.
Natalie: Again, if you don't mind me asking, how did you balance up, I guess, the professional and business side of making that decision with the personal side because that must have been a challenge as well.
Cara: A nightmare. You're leaving security, you're leaving financial security, you're leaving everything you knew. A big part of which I hadn't realized at the time and I now realize working with other next-gen, your whole identity in a family business is tied into that. When you leave that, it's a bit like, oh, jeez, that's gone. The other voice just kept getting louder and louder, and louder.
One day I just saw Cara. In the end, after I made the decision very quickly, and thankfully have never looked back and have never thought even in the worst days of COVID, which was three months after I started the business, I thankfully have never thought, "God, I wish I hadn't have left." No, it was by far, and I think it will be the hardest decision I'll ever have to make in my life.
Natalie: Is there then one piece of advice that you'd really want to give to other next-gen entrepreneurs who have reached that point of thinking, do I stay, do I change things, disrupt things here, or do I go on my own?
Cara: Yes, I think a couple of the questions that I would ask. The first thing is I would say, how much autonomy do you have in the business, or do you think you're going to have in the next few years and is that enough for you? Everyone's very different. I had a lot of autonomy, but as I got older I probably wanted more, and it wasn't ready in the people and the business that I was going to get that. That's the first one in terms of autonomy and control. The second question I would ask is when you look back on your life, where do you think you're going to add the most value? Is it in your family business or is it somewhere else?
Then I suppose the advice I would give on a very practical point of view, which I didn't do is don't instantly make the decision and just go put some things in place. For example, when I transitioned into this business, what I wish I had done was be proactive about getting clients so I didn't leave one and then the next day be like, "I've got no income." If there's anything you can do to transition from one to the other, maybe there isn't. Sometimes it's better just to jump because then you have to make it work. That was a good thing for me. There was no choice. I had to get clients, I had to have an income. Maybe think about that as well.
Natalie: For those who do stay in the family business and then decide that's the right path for them, but I guess this is something we come across a lot with multi-generational family businesses as well, there's a way things have always been done. There's an expectation that that will continue for the future. When we're using big, impactful words around innovation, disruption, and other things like that, how do you work with them to be able to achieve what they want to move forward in a way that I guess is still being respectful to the values and everything else that the business has been built on, but allows them to future-proof the business, I guess, and make it sustainable for the longer term?
Cara: To tell you two types of people I work with, one is the next-gens who are staying in their family business and as you say, want to disrupt it, but they have got autonomy and control. They're not in the stage where they have to constantly push and may be fighting to get it, because I'm not the best person, because I actually make their situation even worse, because I can see what they can see. Now you're making the dynamic in the mix. Some people ask my advice, how do you get to that point? That's not the work I do.
The other part then is the next gens who leave the family business to go off and scale their own business. If I go back to the first people who you've asked me about. We talk a lot today about innovation and disruption. The first thing I say to people is, don't throw the baby out with the bath water. People think innovation and disruption are you smash everything and you start again. You absolutely don't actually. We can talk about that in terms of what I did with the healthcare. Look at what's working really well. Back to that, I think the important part of any business is the real core and heart, and soul of it.
Why did it start? What's in the DNA of this business? Then look at, where are the parts that we need to improve right now? Also, look at-- I certainly didn't expect COVID to happen, don't get me wrong but I did say that people about four or five years ago, the change and dynamics of things in the business environment are getting more and quicker. I suppose I was lucky, I grew up in an environment in Northern Ireland in hospitality. My parents did the third nursing home in Northern Ireland, so that was very disruptive. We had those businesses all through the troubles in Northern Ireland.
We were well used to, certainly in the hospitality side, one minute you're staying in a hotel in Dublin, and you're standing and a bomb goes off in Belfast. The speed that is now happening at is tenfold. The generations who are older, COVID, Brexit, I hate to say it, but there are more of those things coming quicker and faster in the future. You need to be looking ahead otherwise the business will not survive. Do not forget the core and tradition, and the basic things that are working really well in the business. Before you start changing anything, be very careful, because it could be working really well, or maybe it just needs a very slight change. That would be the two sides of that coin, I suppose, for me.
Natalie: You mentioned COVID there. We will pick up on it because you launched your business, I understand, just before COVID as well. How has that been working through the last two years, and what are you generally finding that's coming up with the next-gen entrepreneurs that you're working with?
Cara: I was in New York to do work in America as well, and nearly got locked in in COVID. That was an interesting journey. I came back, and being very honest with you, I was probably two weeks in tears going, "The hell am I going to do I?" I woke up one day and I said, "Young lady, you've done other things before and you have no choice. You'd need to get on with this." I work mostly in the UK and the States, and everyone was locked down. My only way to get to those people was through social media in terms of building relationships.
I again thought, who's doing stuff online in a very authentic-- There's so much stuff online from a sales perspective that is absolutely atrocious. I'm not a sales expert, and I'm definitely not an online expert, but one practical bit of advice I would give to anybody is if you wouldn't say it in person to someone face-to-face, don't write it in a message online. I got mentors in that realm and just reached out. I've been on different podcasts. Building networks and people through that. That was a huge disruption. My whole background, we're very much relationship-building in Northern Ireland and face-to-face. I have to do it that way.
The other part of your question is, what am I saying. Was saying a couple of different things in the family business space. There are two sides. One, I was seeing some of the older generations who were starting to transition out of the business to allow the next gen to come up. Actually COVID, they panicked and they came back in and tightened the range very quickly. What you and I have, there's the whole wrath of next-gen people sitting there. Actually, quite a lot of them are leaving or they're going to leave. Or the other side of it was the complete opposite, actually.
For some of the older generations, COVID was nearly the last straw and they were like, I've had enough. Now there's been so many changes in the world. How do you run a business when you're actually locked down? Then very quickly, the next gens had to take over, which was brilliant. I said the best opportunity for any innovation is a good crisis. The initial thing is you have to deal with a crisis, sort out the burning buildings. Once you can breathe, then start to think about how, because when people are in a burning building, they want to change, they have to do something different. That's how you get people to come with you very quickly. That are probably the two main things I've seen.
Natalie: The only certainty is change. [chuckles] It springs into mind. I completely agree. Especially with the latter, we've seen a large number of family-owned businesses where the current generation has decided right now is the time to step back. We don't want to go through another crisis like this. Linking back to your other point, these things are coming much more quickly, much more frequently. You need future leadership in that business that can take it forward and adapt and pivot where they need to. Thank you so much for your time today, Cara. Are there any final words and anything else that you'd like to leave the listeners with?
Cara: Yes. You've said that change is the only certainty. What I don't want to come across today is people think, "Change, change." Too much change is not a good thing in a business. You have to do it in a structured, measured way, which is obviously the process I do with people. I get frustrated when I read these things and people think innovation is this, just let's go crazy and start doing all this mad stuff. There is part of the process where you do that, but it's not going to be effective. That would probably be the last bit of advice I would give to people.
Natalie: I'll leave your contact details in the show notes. I understand that you are also looking for participants in a survey at the moment as well.
Cara: At the minute I'm doing research on the two types of people I work with. Next gens, as you say, those ones who've just taken over the family business. The generation has gone and they're like, "I've got my hands on this now. I want to scale this. I want to do things very differently." The other side is the people who have left. It's not a sales pitch at all, it is very much research in a very confidential way, a 20-minute conversation just around, what are the challenges they're facing? What are their biggest problems? I'd really love if there's anyone who resonated with what I said today and would be happy to give me 20 minutes of their time, would be brilliant.
Natalie: Fantastic. I'll leave all those details in the show notes. I'm going to close with just two quick-fire questions for you if that's okay. Could you tell me your favorite well-known family-run business and the reason why?
Cara: I hope this doesn't come across as cheesy, but one of my favorite leaders of all time has always been Richard Branson because he was a disruptor way before anyone. I believe his mind must be so expansive that he believes anything is possible. I love it as a family business because his daughter is such a massive advocate for doing good in the world. I suppose those two things are a huge passion of mine in terms of how you use business. That's why I love them, not the monetary value and not the media in terms of what they do.
Natalie: Brilliant. Actually, I think a lot of people wouldn't have even necessarily thought of family, associating it with the Virgin brand as well, but you're right. Holly's doing lots of fantastic stuff, isn't she? I do follow her. Final one. Do you have a podcast or book recommendation that you could share with us for rising family business leaders?
Cara: Yes. I read a lot. My two books I would recommend, and I suppose they're on different sides, one is The Magic Of Thinking Big. It's a phenomenal book. Again, I believe anything's possible. The other one which I've only come across recently is the Disruptive Successor. Actually, it's a very good book for those next gens because you smile through some of it because you could probably see in yourself and things in your own family business that have worked or maybe been a bit of a challenge. That would be the two.
Natalie: Great recommendations. Thank you for that, Cara. Again, we'll pop those in the show notes so they're available for the listeners. Thank you very much. That brings episode three of the third season of the Exploring Family Business podcast with Mazars to a close. If you enjoy today's show, please subscribe to the series and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. It will help us to extend our reach to the Family Business Community.
Join me on the next episode when I'll be speaking with David Baggott, a director in the Mazars Dealer Pfizer team. David and I will be discussing funding in family businesses in a high inflation post-pandemic environment, the difference in funding and debt risk appetites between now-gen and next-gen, as well as the current and future state of the UK M&A market. I look forward to sharing more with you then, but for now, thank you for listening.