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Business management

Family business: recipe for succession

As Family Business Week 2023 draws closer, we’ve been reflecting on the leadership traits we see at successful family firms.

Tomorrow’s businesses are built on actions taken today

Data from Family Business UK tells us 90% of private firms in the UK are family businesses - that’s 4.8 million. They employ 13.9 million people and generate £1.7trn in turnover. Yet their contribution can sometimes be overlooked. 

Among our customers are some extremely innovative and fast-growing family businesses. We understand how effective the family business model can be, but also recognise the unique challenges leaders face as they shape the future for the next generation.

As a supporter of the Family Business UK conference in Glasgow Family businesses: how to plan for the future earlier this year, we were delighted to celebrate the achievements of family businesses. We heard how they continue to adapt and innovate with the goal of handing the business over to the next generation. However, achieving this in challenging times and emerging ready to thrive is no small task. 

As Family Business Week 2023 focuses on pioneering businesses shaping the future for the next generation, we’ve been reflecting on what that means for leadership transition. 

  • What mindset does it take to become a business leader?
  • What skills are required to balance family relationships and make strategic business decisions? 
  • What preparation is required to balance short-term challenges versus long-term resilience? 
  • How do today’s leaders evaluate the readiness of the next generation of family business members and create a culture that values and develops them?

 

Who better to ask than our family business customers, who have shared valuable insight before on key themes including leadership, continuity, and having a clearly defined vision?

Considerations for today’s business leaders: Wild Thang

Andrew Dwerryhouse, Managing Director of Wild Thang, runs the business with his brother, Chris, sister, Sarah, and brother in-law, John. He says experienced family business leaders must continuously be on the lookout to identify next generation talent. From a business started with a small Princes’ Trust loan, the family now lead a multiple award-winning branded clothing, merchandise and print business based in Liverpool with international growth ambitions. With 27 years of business experience under their belts, they know a thing or two about leadership in a family business. 

Andrew says: “Over the years we have built a strong senior team across all departments so the company can continue to not only survive but thrive in the absence of any one individual. We look for talent with similar values, drive and ethics but also enthusiasm, belief, determination and buy-in to our shared mission to deliver something world-class. 

“We have a set of shared values called The Wild Thang Way, which we ask every new team member to sign up to. Everyone understands from the start that better never stops. We believe this creates the right foundations for positive succession planning.”

Considerations for tomorrow’s business leaders: Brickhouse Farm Holiday Cottages

Vicki Murray, General Manager at Brickhouse Farm Holiday Cottages in Lancashire says her family business is structured with succession in mind, and the staff are considered an extension of her family.

Vicki’s parents, Sue and Ian Rainford, were inspired to build the business in 2012 after their youngest daughter was involved in a life-changing road traffic accident. Since celebrating their 10-year business anniversary in July 2023, they have built 12 cottages with disabled access and facilities on Brickhouse Farm among acres of stunning countryside to provide holiday accommodation for families, friends, and carers.

As a values-led, community-minded family business, Vicki says all 56 employees play a role in the future and succession of Brickhouse Farm Holiday Cottages. “The business sits on family land and is growing as our own family grows. To fully understand what it means to lead the business, my husband Dan and I have taken on a multitude of roles, from payroll to shepherding ducks out of the restaurant! We have multiple generations of the same family working with us, and all our employees get the opportunity to progress their career, to learn and develop their skills. Because they grow with us, our values and heritage are protected as we continue to innovate and diversify.”

Family Business Week 2023 begins on 20 November

Coming soon: read our full interviews with Andrew and Chris at Wild Thang, and Vicki at Brickhouse Farm, for lots more valuable insight and inspiration.  

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