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What Is Keeping Family Business Owners Awake At Night?

2020 has presented family business owners around the UK with lots of uncertainty and it’s no surprise that given the ongoing pandemic, macro-economic issues remain top of the family business agenda, according to the latest research from Family Business United (‘FBU’).

Uncertainty around Britain and the exit from the EU, global political ambiguity, challenging trading conditions and changing restrictions due to Covid-19 all contribute to making the economy the biggest concern for family businesses today.

Given the level of uncertainty on what the future holds, it is also unsurprising that profitability and sustainability are a key concern too. It is undoubtedly the cause of sleepless nights for many families in business as they seek to secure their future.

Family business owners have a lot to address with regards business matters so it comes as no surprise that family matters have fallen down the list of priorities.

The Family Business Agenda (% Citing Issue As A Significant Concern)

  1. The economic climate 78%
  2. Profitability and sustainability of the business 36%
  3. Global political uncertainty 35%
  4. Issues associated with Covid-19 32%
  5. Challenges associated with Brexit 30%
  6. Regulation, red tape and legislation 29%
  7. Supply chain disruption 29%
  8. The changing nature of retail and the high street 26%
  9. Survival of the business 19%
  10. Rising costs of labour and raw materials 18%

As Paul Andrews, Founder & CEO of FBU explains, “Since the start of March the pandemic has played a key role in the fortunes of family firms who have been looking closely at their bottom line, focusing on credit control and making sure, wherever possible, they are taking the right steps to secure the future of their business.”

“Irrespective of whether the business is a first generation start-up or a multi-generational family firm, profitability and cash are key in these uncertain times. History and heritage provide a great narrative but will not guarantee long-term sustainability in their own right,” continues Paul.

Family firms play an integral part in the UK economy and will continue to do so through the provision of employment, generation of wealth and creation of income as the nation seeks to recover.

As Paul continues, “There will be challenges ahead but the skills, qualities and attributes that have already been shown by family businesses in response to the pandemic and the changing nature of the world in which they now have to operate shows that they are well placed to continue to make a difference.”

“Families and their wider teams have really come to the fore in 2020 and the sense of community, support and resilience has never been more evident. UK family firms are addressing the challenges, finding new ways of working, embracing technology and digital platforms, pivoting to develop new business streams and making the most of the opportunities that present themselves too,” continues Paul.

“It is fantastic to see UK family firms continue to demonstrate innovation, entrepreneurship and resilience across all sectors as well as overcoming adversity as they seek to build stronger and more sustainable businesses for the future. They continue to adapt and evolve and will be so integral to the recovery of the nation,” he adds.

“Whilst it is totally understandable that the agenda is dominated by practical business matters, families in business need to make sure that some of the trickier and more emotional conversations around transition, responsibilities and future leaders are not completely put aside as they are important matters that need to be addressed. Above all, families with a shared purposed and real vision are well placed to ride out the storm and be well placed to thrive once things return to a new ‘normal.’

As Paul concludes, “Despite the prevailing uncertainties, family business owners are resilient and will continue to take the approach that many have taken for generations before them, to create businesses for the long-term, invest sensibly to create sustainable firms and continue to focus on preserving the business for generations to come.”

Check out the full findings here:

Final Distributed Mazars Family Business United Family Business Survey 2020

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