Next-generation members need to realise that it is not just their skills that matter when it comes to joining the family business, according to a British lobby group.
Commenting as the Institute for Family Business launched a new initiative to stimulate growth in the UK’s family business sector, the organisation’s director general, Grant Gordon, said next-gens should seek outside work experience to figure out if they are suited to their family’s company or other businesses.
“It is not just about skills – these are very important, but next-gens also need to discover what their motivations, passions and interests are,” he told CampdenFB.
“Once you have a clear idea of what motivates you, then you will hopefully know if the family business is for you.”
The initiative, called Family Business Challenges, launches today in Lancaster with support from employers’ organisation the Confederation of British Industry and the UK minister for business and enterprise, Mark Prisk.
Family firms are a “key part” of the country's mid-sized business sector, said Prisk. According to figures from the IFB, family-controlled businesses make up two-thirds of Britain’s private sector enterprises and employ 40% of the sector’s workforce – about 9.2 million people.
Through free online guides and seminars, the programme aims to strengthen family businesses, focusing on management, competitiveness and the next generation.
The guides will provide the “latest thinking” on good practice at family firms, looking at questions that need to be asked and “actions that should be taken to have successful outcomes”, said Gordon.
The IFB wants to draw on the success of Germany's Mittelstand, although Gordon said that strong family businesses, no matter where they are in the world, show two traits in particular – good clarity and a strong sense of values.
"Once these two things are in place, family businesses can focus squarely on investing in a long-term vision," he said, adding that although this may not pay off in the short-term, over time generations of the family will see a return.
“If we can increase the number of family firms passing on their businesses to the next generation, then we have the potential to secure thousands of UK jobs and boost the economy,” said Gordon.