Confidence up among family firms but some doubts persist

More than half (57 per cent) of UK family businesses have seen their prospects improve during the last 12 months, according to new data from the Institute for Family Business (IFB).

A greater proportion – 62 per cent – feel even more confident about the next five years, the research says, but many feel barriers still exist when it comes to trading overseas.

Almost three-quarters (71 per cent) of family businesses say they have been exporting for at least 15 years, with most trading with EU nations. Those who have no experience, however, report a number of reservations. They cite a lack of knowledge as the key restraint, with insufficient advice coming from government agencies.

Mark Hastings, director general of the IFB, said he was ‘encouraged’ by the news of boosted confidence, but he 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.”

Listing business mentors as a way to bridge the gap in knowledge, he said: “It is about finding a solution that works and firms should ensure they thoroughly research the different tools available to help them in their efforts.”

BJ Chong, of Palmers’ family business team, said: “It is great news to hear that most family businesses are in a better position than they were 12 months ago and I fully endorse the IFB’s suggestion that seeking the advice of knowledgeable parties is a great way for firms to move forward. It’s where Palmers comes in. We can offer clients a range of services that encompass not only the challenges they face but their aims for the future. To hear more about what we offer, and our understanding of the specific issues faced by family businesses, please contact us.”