The rising success of family firms

With today’s consumers distrusting of banks, corporates and high street chains, its no surprise that the UK’s family business sector is thriving.

Independent retailers on the high street are seeing customers return during the difficult times, fond of the personal service and family values that lie at the heart of most family businesses. And although historically they have a reputation for being small and often old-fashioned, times are changing and family firms are embracing new technologies and innovations.

What’s more, they have an intrinsic sense of responsibility and are often huge employers of local people, great philanthropists, and ambassadors for entrepreneurship.

Take John Jones MBE for example. Recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the national Red Ribbon Awards for family business. John’s company manufactures bespoke frames for some of the world’s greatest pieces of art. Not only has John built an incredible business from nothing, he has also left a legacy for his children to carry on for generations to come.

Being in business with family isn’t always plain sailing. When thinking about joining your father’s company or going into partnership with your husband, there are some basic points which need to be thought through:

Communicate – Make sure you listen to each other and articulate your thoughts before it ends in an argument. Don’t just assume the other knows what you want or think.

Define your roles – There’s nothing worse than not knowing what’s expected of you or treading on each other’s toes. Identify where your skills lie and take responsibility for that part of the business.

Separate work from play – It’s inevitable that things are going to get heated, there will often be a difference of opinion. But these things are work-related and shouldn’t impact your relationships on a personal level. When you’re away from the office, be AWAY from the office.

Have fun – When things are tough it’s good to have a close shoulder to lean on. And when times are good, who better to share it with than your brother, mother, son, sister? Family businesses are there to be enjoyed, a chance for you to create something truly special together.

What’s it all for? – Family business owners are often the ones in the office at the weekend, not taking holiday, and staying awake all night. But don’t forget that a family business can also afford you the opportunity to leave a legacy; do great things in the local community, support charitable causes and create business that your children are proud to carry on.

Amalia Brightley-Gillott


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