Succession planning and growth strategy are the top business challenges facing family businesses in 2014, according to the findings of a survey run by the national, independent support organisation for family businesses, Families in Business (FiB). At the latest in its national programme of events for family businesses, FiB ran its ‘Family Business Fortunes’ live survey which involved attendees rating their biggest business challenge – coming joint first was growth strategy and succession planning, communications was second, relationships third, and ownership fourth.
Dani Saveker, CEO and founder of FiB, said the live survey echoes the findings of FiB’s last annual survey: “Ahead of our 2014 national annual survey closing and the results being analysed, the event gave us the chance to ‘sample’ how family businesses are feeling right now about the biggest challenges for this year. The findings are consistent with those of our last annual survey.”
FiB is running its 2014 annual survey until the end of March and its findings will be released in the FiB Annual Report to be published later this year.
“Our live survey has been enlightening,” added Dani, “but not entirely surprising as succession planning, or future-proofing, is a constant challenge for family businesses thinking about the next generation that will pick up the mantle of running the family firm. Working with family can be one of the most rewarding things ever, but equally there will be many issues to face along the way.
“My advice would be that it’s never too early to start planning. Where possible this should be an inclusive process involving family and non family members. Succession isn’t just about leadership, it’s about the whole business and it is vital to have a clear and concise strategy for the short, medium and long term, and to communicate the plan to everyone.
“Growth very often means different things to different people, so it is time well spent discussing with the whole team what it means to you, and them. Stick to what you know and have a clear focus and strategy, rather than being distracted or trying to do something you know very little about. Always, always use your trusted advisers to assist you and consider bringing in specialist skills and non family members.”
Guest speaker at the event was Charles Smith, one of the owners of Shoe Zone, who told the success story of Leicester-based family firm Shoe Zone which since 1980 has grown to now own over 550 stores. “I have always been able to compartmentalise business life and family life – I am lucky in that working with my brother has been one of the best things about being in the business.
“My advice to other family companies would be to plan for the future – you are not going to last forever so there needs to be some succession planning. It’s often one of the issues that family firms find tough to address but it needs to be done.”
Professional advisors at the event included PKF Cooper Parry, FiB’s official wealth and accountancy partner in the East Midlands and Spearing Waite LLP, FiB’s Leicester legal partner.
Family businesses account for two in every three UK private enterprises, with three million family businesses in the UK employing over nine million people that contribute almost a quarter of all GDP to the UK economy and have a combined annual turnover of £1.1 trillion. FIB is a community for the UK’s family businesses and those that influence them, own them, work in, with and for them.
To take part in FiB’s 2014 national survey visit: http://fibcommunity2014.questionpro.com