Learning Adaptation from India's Longstanding Family Businesses


India's enduring family businesses serve as exemplars of adaptability, demonstrating how companies can navigate change while staying true to their core objectives. In this blog, we explore the valuable lessons that family businesses in India offer on embracing change and sustaining growth.

Reliance: A Model of Change

One of India's most iconic family businesses, Reliance, has thrived for over four decades due to its readiness to venture into new sectors when needed. Recognizing the importance of digitization, Reliance launched Jio, a pioneering telecom and internet service provider that leverages cutting-edge technologies. Additionally, the group is investing heavily in green energy, emphasizing the significance of renewable power sources. Quick adaptation to emerging trends is a vital takeaway for small family businesses.

Leadership Succession: A Crucial Challenge

Long-established family businesses often encounter leadership transitions. Effective succession plans are essential to ensure business continuity. In some cases, non-family members with specific expertise may need to lead the organization. Thermax, a family-owned engineering company founded in 1970, demonstrates the importance of hiring external talent when required. The focus should be on practical decisions rather than emotional ones to safeguard the business's future.

Prioritizing Long-Term Goals

Indian family businesses maintain their resilience by prioritizing long-term objectives and demonstrating flexibility in pursuing sustainable growth over short-term gains. An example from Thermax illustrates their shift from coal and fossil fuels to green power (biomass) for steam production, despite potential short-term financial drawbacks. The decision paid off over time, highlighting the importance of adapting to change proactively.

Adapting to Government Policies

India's family businesses have weathered changes in government leadership and corresponding shifts in industrial policies. Their agility in adjusting organizational strategies to align with evolving government mandates has been instrumental in their success. The opening of Indian markets to global competition in 1990 presented both challenges and opportunities, prompting Indian family businesses to not only compete locally but also explore foreign markets.

Strategic Partnerships for Growth

Indian family businesses understand the value of strategic alliances with foreign partners to enhance sales. For instance, Nature's Basket, the food retail arm of the Godrej group, recognized the need to bolster its e-commerce presence and partnered with Amazon to expand its reach and boost sales. This collaboration with a global e-commerce giant has strengthened their position in the market.


Indian family businesses have mastered the art of adaptation, flourishing even in turbulent times. They serve as a testament to the notion that companies that evolve with the times not only survive but continue to grow, no matter the challenges they face.

Deven Parikh

Leave a comment