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What’s Keeping Family Business Owners Awake At Night?

The latest 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.

With so much political and economic uncertainty at present it is not easy running a business where there are constant business and economic announcements and regulatory changes and therefore unsurprising that macro issues top the agenda again this year.

This year’s Family Business Survey sought to get a picture of the issues that are facing family businesses and to highlight the complex agenda that is being addressed. The results are in and clearly identify the main areas of concern for family businesses across the country.

The Top Challenges Facing UK Family Businesses Today

1. The Economic Climate (76%)

2. Rising Costs of Labour & Raw Materials (60%)

3. Supply Chain Issues (48%)

4. Recruiting, Retaining & Motivating Staff (42%)

5. Staff Shortages & Vacancies (41%)

6. Global Political Uncertainty (35%)

7. Regulation, Red Tape & Legislation (25%)

8. Profitability & Sustainability of the Business (20%)

9. Environmental Issues (18%)

10. Improving Customer Engagement (17%)

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. It is well documented that the past year has been incredibly challenging for businesses across the UK and the boardroom agenda is packed with challenges that do need to be addressed.”

“Along with the ongoing issues associated with the economic climate, businesses are still dealing with the fallout from Brexit and the pandemic and other issues remain significant challenges including supply chains, the rising costs of raw materials and labour and in some cases labour shortages, increased energy costs and inflation.”

“Family firms have shown their resilience and entrepreneurship over the last few years 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, but with ongoing concerns about energy costs and potential blackouts, it is clear that there are longer term concerns around profitability and sustainability for many family businesses too.”

“There is a lot on the business agenda and compared to prior years some of the family challenges around succession, transition, governance and engaging the next generation are deemed less important but they should not be forgotten. Family matters will need to be addressed going forward but it is understandable at present the focus remains on the measures that will enable businesses to survive for the longer term,” continues Paul.

As Lyn Calder, Edinburgh Managing Partner & Head of Family Businesses at AAB, sponsors of the 2022 Family Business Survey adds, “Family businesses are the engine room of the UK economy supporting the nation through the provision of jobs, generation of income and wealth creation, not forgetting the contribution and support that they give to communities the length and breadth of the country.”

As Lyn continues, “Family businesses are known for taking the long term view and in many cases those running a family business today see themselves as custodians or stewards of the business for future generations."

"Running a business at the moment is challenging but family firms are also adaptable, entrepreneurial and innovative, as many have been for generations, and will continue to take the necessary steps to deal with the challenges they face.”

“The survey clearly identifies the challenges faced by family business owners around the UK and helps people appreciate that they are not alone in facing these challenges and it also gives recognition to the concerns of this rich, vibrant and diverse sector of the economy. It also gives an indication as to the nature of the conversations that should be taking place around the family business boardroom table too,” concludes Lyn.

Family Business United conducted the survey during the summer of 2022.


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