What’s keeping small business up at night?

When your family are also your business partners, you have to think about the future in a different way.

The contribution of family businesses to the Australian and New Zealand economies is significant. They account for 70% of all businesses and employ 50% of the workforce.

But what is keeping this sector up at night?

The Grant Thornton and Family Business Australia & New Zealand’s Family Business Survey 2021 – Australia’s longest running survey into family businesses (having first been published in 2005) has given a unique insight into how family businesses have fared over the last 18 months and their prospects for the future.

Generally speaking – family businesses are optimistic.

However, if we look closer, we see that the family firms with strong governance in place and that are ‘transition-ready’ far outperformed their peers in terms of resilience in the past, prospects for the future, and overall satisfaction with their achievements.

The past 12 to 18 months has been a critical period for many family firms.

“Given the challenges that have been encountered by businesses worldwide as COVID-19 has taken hold and shaped the future of many family companies, it is timely that this survey attempts to unlock the types of behaviours and policies displayed by resilient family companies (i.e. those firms that have showed financial resilience in the past 12 months and also expect to do so into the next 12 months),” said Robert Powell, Partner & National Head of Family Business Consulting at Grant Thornton.

“Pleasingly, there was a clear link between transition-ready or succession-ready family businesses and resilience.

“Knowing who your successor is isn’t the critical factor, it is the rigour and planning that supports a clear succession strategy that indicates the increased likelihood of the planning and processes to weather the storms of change.

“For the first time, the survey also examines how succession-ready family businesses differ in their policies and operations from other family firms, utilising Grant Thornton’s unique seven-step FREEDOM succession planning framework.”


This article was first published in The Fence magazine.