By Daniel Hunter

A lack of relevant government and professional support for the UK’s small, family-owned businesses is leaving their owners feeling isolated, alone and undervalued, according to network Families in Business (FiB).

The national organisation, which aims to provide support and guidance for family-run businesses, said the isolation being felt by such business owners pose a threat to the future and sustainability of the business.

Headquartered in the West Midlands, FiB last week had the official launch of its new North West division at an event in Liverpool.

Speaking ahead of the launch of its North West branch in Liverpool, FiB founder and CEO Dani Saveker, said: “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.

“When you consider the economic contribution they make in terms of employment, GDP and taxes, more should be done to understand and support them with relevant and trusted advice and ideas.”

Ms Saveker added: “I’m amazed that so many [business owners] have said that as a family business they feel there is nowhere for them to go to to talk to people who understand and can help them. Amongst the biggest challenges they have is succession and handover of the business to the next generation. Many are also facing issues over skills for the business, which echoes the findings of our own survey that highlighted this as a real issue for the vast majority of family firms across the UK.

“There are over three million family businesses in the UK, and we estimate that more than 170,000 family businesses will transfer to the next generation each year, but with the apparent lack of specific and quality advice, our concern is how many of these will make it through this critical stage in a family firm’s life cycle and into the next generation."

Half of the family-run businesses attending 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.