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What Challenges Are On The Family Business Agenda Now?

The latest pulse survey from Family Business United has identified the key challenges that are being addressed by family business leaders in board rooms up and down the country.  We wanted to get a picture of the issues that are facing family businesses to highlight the complex agenda that is being addressed. The results are in and whilst some of the key challenges are not surprising, there are some challenges that are seen as more important than may have been expected.

The Top 20 Challenges Facing UK Family Business Boards

  1. The Economic Climate (50%)
  2. Supply Chain Disruption (30%)
  3. The Ongoing Implications Of Coronavirus (29%)
  4. Continuing Challenges Associated With Brexit (28%)
  5. Rising Costs Of Labour & Raw Materials (27%)
  6. Recruiting, Retaining & Motivating Staff (24%)
  7. Regulation, Red Tape & Legislation (23%)
  8. The Changing Nature Of Retail & The High Street (22%)
  9. Profitability & Sustainability Of The Business (19%)
  10. Environmental Issues (18%)
  11. Succession Planning (18%)
  12. Finding An Employee Balance (Working From Home, Hybrid Working etc) (16%)
  13. Cashflow (14%)
  14. Global Political Uncertainty (14%)
  15. Employee Safety & Returning To Work (14%)
  16. Employee Engagement (14%)
  17. Identifying & Developing Future Leaders (13%)
  18. Strengthening The Board (13%)
  19. Staff Numbers & The End Of The Furlough Scheme (13%)
  20. Balancing The Needs Of The Family & The Business (13%)

As Paul Andrews, Founder and CEO of Family Business United explains, “These results give us a broad indication of the challenges being faced by family business owners as the pandemic continues to have an impact. It is well documented that the past year or so has been incredibly challenging, even for those family firms that have continued to operate throughout, and the boardroom agenda is packed with challenges that do need to be addressed.”

“Along with the ongoing issues associated with the economic climate, Brexit and the pandemic there are specific issues coming to the fore around supply chains, rising costs of raw materials and labour and in some cases labour shortages.  The changing nature of the High Street is a big concern for many businesses along with cashflow and profitability and there are obvious concerns around the implications for staffing levels and funding the workforce when the furlough scheme comes to an end.”

“Family firms have shown their resilience and entrepreneurship over the last year or so and continue to be innovative in their business decisions but it is clear that there are concerns.  Cash is, and always will be king, and with the need to repay loans, deferred rates and tax bills, and the return to work for more employees as furlough ends, it is clear that there are longer term concerns around profitability and sustainability.”

“Much talk is going on around climate change and the environment and these issues are on the agenda, which is great to see, and we are also seeing more active consideration on business practices and changes that can be made to make a real difference too.”

“Clearly people are important to the family business and in many ways the workforce are looked upon as the extension of the family but plenty of people issues are on the agenda around the UK.  Businesses have spent a lot of time and effort engaging with staff, communicating with them and managing new ways of working but as restrictions start to ease and the prospect of returning to the office rise, challenges around safety in the office, balancing working from home and in the office, hybrid solutions and continued engagement with the workforce are high on the agenda.”

“Looking to the longer term, businesses are also having to focus on strengthening the board so that the business has the best people on board to drive the business as they build forward.  Within the family, identifying and developing future leaders as part of the succession planning process still needs to be done.  During the pandemic, many senior family members have got more involved in the business and not stepped back as previously planned, and these plans need to be revisited by some firms too and new plans/timetables put in place for a smooth transition to the next generation.”

“Balancing the needs of the family and the business is always on the agenda, and is now possibly more so than ever as families look to recover and build the business going forward.  There are lots of things to think about and the ever changing world in which businesses are operating is not making it easy.”

“However, speaking to many leaders from multi-generational family firms it is clear that history is helping as they have had to deal with significant challenges in the past, and as many see themselves as custodians of the business for future generations, it is great to hear them talk positively and optimistically about the future too.  It is not going to be easy and there are inevitably challenges ahead, but the agenda is set and there is an incredibly positivity and resilience to survive and thrive as family businesses look to the future and address their own family business agenda, one step at a time,” concludes Paul.

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