A national organisation that has launched a new division in the North West has pledged its commitment to provide ‘fresh and relevant’ support to the region’s 300,000 family run and owned businesses. The network, Families in Business (FiB), provides guidance around the current challenges, specific issues and dynamics of family and privately-owned businesses. In the North West, its network brings together the region’s professional advisers to family businesses, including Mazars LLP, O’Connors LLP, and Mason Media. At FiB North West’s launch event at Hillbark Hotel & Spa on Friday (27th February 2015), family businesses identified their main business and family challenges for 2015.
Half of the family businesses at the event said that R&D, innovation and development are the biggest challenges they face this year, followed jointly by sales growth (25%), and skills and talent (25%). Relationship dynamics within a family firm continue to be an important focus, with 40% citing these as a top challenge for the family members running the business, alongside maintaining vision, focus and strategy (40%). Future proofing the family business for the next generation is still at the heart of many family firms, with 20% identifying succession as the second biggest challenge they face.
Supporting the ‘Ask the Adviser’ forum that formed part of the North West launch event, were FiB’s Approved Advisers in the region – Mazars LLP, Mazars Wealth Management, Mason Media, and O’Connors LLP – as well as Griffiths & Armour Insurance Brokers, Growth Accelerator, Liverpool LEP, Lloyds Bank, Medhurst IT, and The FD Centre. Guest speaker at the event was Ian Meadows OBE, former High Sheriff of Merseyside, and executive chairman of lubricants manufacturer RS Clare & Co, which was founded in 1748. Ian, who has accepted FiB’s invitation to become a Champion of the organisation, delivered an inspirational talk summarising his experiences of being part of Liverpool’s oldest family business.
His key message was that family businesses should never stand still: “Innovation and reinventing themselves, people and talent development, and communication, are all contributors to the business’ longevity,” he said. Dani Saveker founded FiB in 2012 to ensure support, resources, tools and a ‘neutral community’ exists for family businesses. She was formerly the fourth generation and chief executive in her own family’s manufacturing business for seven years, which, she says: “Means FiB can support family businesses from a position of knowing some of what they are experiencing and the challenges they are facing, having ‘lived it’ for many years.” FiB has spoken to some 300 family businesses across the North West already which, says Dani, has revealed that the majority of their owners feel isolated, alone and undervalued by the lack of specific support available to them as a family run firm. “This poses a serious threat to their future sustainability,” said Dani. “Family firms have no one to turn to who really understands the challenges they face, and they are struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness. “FiB is committed to tackling this lack of support head-on by providing a fresh new approach to the support for family firms through our network of top quality advisers, family business champions and ambassadors, and a programme of peer group events and workshops. The next step will be launching peer groups for those in their family business to join and process issues, explore options and generally feel that there is a trusted sounding board for them.” A prize draw at the event raised £133 for the Alder Hey Children’s Charity. Contact Families in Business for more information about the support available to family and privately-owned businesses, e: email@example.com, and follow @fibcommunity on Twitter.