Almost two thirds (57%) of family-run firms have seen their business prospects improve over the past 12 months according to research by the Institute for Family Business. Members were questioned by the not-for-profit organisation about their current status and hopes for the future.
There are currently three million family businesses, that’s sixty one percent of all businesses in the UK. Family firms turnover an estimated £1.1 trillion annually, that’s some thirty two per cent of total private sector turnover.
Half of family businesses questioned were optimistic about their growth over the next year, and a further 62 per cent feel even more confident about the next five years. However, one area of doubt for firms questioned was that, despite many of them having a long-standing exporting history, many felt that significant barriers still exist when it comes to trading overseas. The European Union represents the most popular markets for overseas trading with 86% of respondents citing they operate here, followed by North America (77%), Australia (71%) and Central, Southern and East Asia (71%).
Commenting on the report’s findings, Mark Hastings, Director General of the IFB, said:
“It’s encouraging to hear that so many business leaders feel their performance has improved throughout 2015 and are already looking to the year ahead with confidence, both in terms of their own business prospects and the UK’s economic performance.
“Given the high percentage of companies that have been trading overseas for more than 15 years, it is clear that exporting is a key part of many firms’ business plans. It is also good to see that the EU remains a key market for international traders, and any businesses that are considering expansion abroad should certainly look to the EU as a viable prospect. Free circulation, and similar trading and regulatory standards to the UK, means exporting to the EU is a great place for firms to gain experience before expanding even further afield.”
However, despite this success rate, businesses that are not currently exporting expressed concern about doing so.
When asked what they feel are the biggest barriers, almost two thirds (60%) of family businesses cited a lack of local market knowledge and a lack of resource within their business. This was followed by not enough local partners and insufficient advice from government agencies.
Mark Hastings added:
“It is concerning that family businesses still feel they do not have the right support needed to make the move abroad, particularly when there is such a wealth of resources and information available to firms in the UK – many of which are completely free to use.
“Whether its practical tips and advice from organisations like UK Trade & Investment; guidance on how to access finance through a bank or government grant; working with a business mentor or joining a network of like-minded business leaders to share best practice – it is about finding a solution that works and firms should ensure they thoroughly research the different tools available to help them in their exporting efforts.”