Image: Carissa Rogers
Image: Carissa Rogers

The family business sector has revealed a growing mix in the family members in control of the firm, as succession is missing from any form of future-planning strategies from almost all family businesses.

The latest research by Families in Business (FiB), show a rise in the number of family firms with ‘blended families’, with nearly a third now having step-children or step-parents involved.

However, 97% of family business owners admit to a lack of direction and purpose for their business, and that challenges around achieving a balance between work and life are contributing to the absence of succession planning admitted by 95% of family business owners.

The study also reveals that more than a quarter (26%) have women as their managing director or CEO, six percent higher than in the research findings in 2015.

Dani Saveker, CEO of FiB said: : “The changing face of the modern family is reflected by the diversity of family members working in the business and growing numbers of step and adopted children joining the company following divorces and second marriages – 31% of family firms have these ‘blended families’ working together, compared to 25% last year.

“Increasingly, family members have struggled to balance work, life and family, so have had children later, which has led to a generation gap.”

The key findings of the research revealed the majority (97%) of family business owners feel a lack of balance in their life and 86% have a lack of focus or purpose in their life.

The biggest challenges for families working together in the business are communication (66%), succession (58%), communication (54%), and direction (42%), but a further 63% believe people care less about each other than ever before, despite being better connected through technology.

Over three quarters (79%) of family business owners admit they are frightened and worried they are not good enough to run their business, whilst 62% of individuals reply on something to cope, including alcohol and food.

The FiB have created an Annual Guide, intended to support family businesses to develop strategies to unlock their business’ potential.

Ms. Saveker added: “To unlock the business and the potential within it, you have to go beyond it. A business is a vehicle to deliver wealth, satisfaction, legacy and freedom and yet we so easily get caught up in the day-to-day challenges.

“When you work with family, you have the added emotions associated with responsibility, duty, being good enough and making the right decisions, as well as managing expectations and family dynamics.”

Bruce Oldfield OBE, one of Britain’s most successful fashion designers and Honorary Vice President of Barnardos, FiB’s charity of the year said: “Having a clear sense of identity and purpose is a fundamental component for success and happiness.

“Family doesn’t have to mean the people you share DNA and blood with, but more so those that care and support you, allow you to be the best version of yourself, and give a belief in what’s possible.”

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