A national consultancy dedicated to supporting family businesses has set-up a Scottish base in Edinburgh.
Families in Business (FiB) is the sector’s leading, independent support organisation, and provides family enterprises with consultancy, membership, events, and a portfolio of tools to address the needs and unique challenges of family and owner-managed businesses.
FiB is led by its founder Dani Saveker, who was the fourth generation in her own family’s manufacturing business and its CEO for seven years, before she created FiB.
Scotland has in the region of 60,000 family businesses, with over half (54%) still under the control of their founding generation, and more than two thirds (61%) more than 11-years-old. 69% of Scottish SMEs are family-owned*.
FiB’s Scottish launch was marked by an event at Edinburgh’s family owned Kyloe Restaurant, when a group of representatives from a number of the region’s largest and longest-running family enterprises discussed the biggest challenges they face as part of a family firm.
The event was supported by the Edinburgh offices of accountancy and advisory firm Mazars, and Clydesdale Bank. Both organisations already work with FiB in a number of other regions across the UK and will now further develop its involvement in Scotland.
“The event brought together family businesses from the horticultural, manufacturing, retail, and care sectors, which spanned founding and multi-generation enterprises established from five to more than 300 years ago, with an average annual turnover of £9million,” Dani Saveker explained.
“Amongst the key issues they highlighted as of greatest concern are succession, business growth, working with Generation Y, keeping-up with advances in technology, and regulatory uncertainty. Specifically, these match the findings of our annual survey which revealed that 79% have a tangible fear of not being good enough to lead the family business, some 66% have communication issues within their family and the business, and 71% believe the family doesn’t have a shared purpose for the business.
“FiB’s team has first-hand experience of exactly these kinds of unique challenges and issues incumbent with working in and running a family business,” Dani adds, “and can provide insightful, empathetic and above all relevant support and guidance to help them tackle them, and find a route to continued success and happiness. Scotland has family enterprise at the heart of its business community and FiB is excited to have its newest regional operation here.
“In Scotland, we will be running a series of specialist peer groups based on the network already well established in our other UK regions. These involve members of family enterprises meeting every other month to discuss their challenges, evaluate opportunities and solve an assortment of strategic and often personal issues unique to family enterprises,” she explains. “These sessions are an intimate and safe place to bring the often unique challenges of family enterprises to the table.”
Discussions at FiB’s Edinburgh event revealed a close connection to the findings of FiB’s recent global research:
“Family business leaders and owners simply don’t have the right or enough support from groups that truly understand how a family enterprise ticks,” says Dani, “and this was strongly evident from discussions. Too often they simply don’t know who to turn to, especially if they are living as well as working together. FiB provides the safe and neutral environment for such critical conversations that are often unique to family enterprises. Indeed, one family business representative said it is a ‘revelation’ that an organisation such as FiB exists, and that they wish they’d know about it years ago.”
Donations on the night raised £310 for the Scottish division of charity Barnardo’s, FiB’s charity partner.
Margaret Laidlaw, Managing Partner for Mazars in Scotland, commented: “We were delighted to be involved in the FIB launch event in Edinburgh. With such a strong family business history and ambition in Scotland to hear the real life stories from a spectrum of family businesses was both a privilege and fascinating. Mazars specialise in providing a comprehensive range of services to family businesses with our accredited teams working with our clients on areas such as succession, governance and family constitutions across a broad range of family businesses both in terms of size and sector. We are extremely lucky to have built strong relationships through working with some great family businesses - some of whom were there on the evening – and to support them as they grow and develop and pass from generation to generation.”
Stephen Buchan, Head of Commercial and Small Business, East Scotland, at Clydesdale Bank, said: “Family businesses make a significant contribution to the communities in which they operate, and are critical to the success of the Scottish economy. Many of our most valued customers are family-run and owned businesses and we welcome the opportunity to support FiB's Scottish launch.
“It was inspiring to witness at first hand the passion, energy and resilience on display from the business owners and their optimism for the future, particularly at a time of economic uncertainty, was infectious.
“Dani and the team will prove a valuable resource to the Scottish family business community and we wish them every success.”
FiB is to host a programme of peer group events and exclusive dinner clubs for Scottish family firms. For more information, visit and follow @fibcommunity on Twitter. It is also staging its inaugural National Summit at Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire on 10th November 2016 and will publish the findings of its 2016 survey of family businesses worldwide in the Global FiB Annual Guide later this month.
Families in Business (FiB) is the specialist division of the Shirlaws Group, and focuses on dynamics and relationships and how they impact family and privately owned enterprises. It is the UK’s only neutral organisation run solely for family businesses, privately-owned enterprises and entrepreneurs, and has a team of professionals with on-the-job, first-hand experience of working in a family business. It operates across the UK and increasingly worldwide via a rapidly growing network of offices, to provide support, consultancy and membership to family firms and their owners. Together, FiB and Shirlaws Group represent the go-to place for the enterprise sector.
*Source: the Omnibus Survey of Small Businesses in Scotland 2002