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The Family Dimension

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11 January 2012

The Family Dimension

A new year and new opportunities... I will shortly be taking up a new role that will see me working with family businesses, a subject close to my heart and one that's in my blood. As excited as I am about what lies ahead, I understand the importance and challenges that will come with such a responsibility. Every business has it's hurdles and obstacles of course, but a business that includes working with family has another dimension - the FAMILY DIMENSION. If you work in your family's business you will know what that means. If you have never worked with family you won't - you couldn't possibly know what it's like. If you are an advisor or supplier to family businesses you won't really understand it either but you should. In order for families in business to get the best possible advice and support they need to be surrounded by teams that get the quirkiness and complexities of this F-DIMENSION. I know the good, the bad and the ugly of working with my family - as does my husband who also worked with family for a while. Here's an just one quick story from my time as CEO of Savekers Limited and working with advisors... I had to choose a solicitor to help me carry out an MBO back in 2002. I was young and didn't really understand the mechanics so I visited three Birmingham law firms in turn. With each of them I presented the same vision and aims and also told them of the issues involved with the family holding shares. All three firms could demonstrate their professionalism and expertise, all were impressive - they clearly would know how to get the deal done. However, only one of these solicitors showed that more than his professional know how he understood the F-Dimension and what we needed as a family and as a business wanting to move forward. Guess which one I chose! Not only did Richard become the solicitor that helped me complete the MBO but he also helped me when I went on to acquire several businesses and restructure the Board. While there is no doubt in my mind that any solicitor or accountant that can genuinely show they know how to work with all the issues of a family business has a competitive advantage, it is just as important that the bank, wealth management team, PR and marketing consultants, web/IT team, the HR consultants and H & S advisors also have a solid understanding of the issues for a family business to get the support they need to succeed. Surely it's a win/win situation then! Happy New Year to all those fabulous family businesses out there and those that are committed to providing outstanding support and expertise to them to. If you are interested in knowing more about my forthcoming role or would like to share your family business story, would like help within your own family business or would like to know how to develop your organisation to better support family businesses please drop me an email