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Business matters: Why family buusiness should be supported as a crucial component to our economy

Sue Howorth and Dave Clarkson, directors of The Family Business Network discuss the important role that family businesses play within their communities and the wider economic success of the UK, plus why we should support them.

We believe it is important to provide a local, regional and national platform for the Family Business sector, which not only generates over a quarter of the UK’s GDP but is  equally vital for  nurturing and bringing through  future generations of business owners and leaders.

Engaging the community of family businesses

The Family Business Network was founded in Cumbria in 2014 and has since evolved to become an engaged community of family businesses and those that support the sector covering  the North West, North East, Yorkshire, Humberside and the East Midlands.

Supporting the next generation in business

Our Next Generation Network brings together those new generations of family business successors that have either recently joined their family firm or are thinking of doing so, providing a safe space for them to learn, share and inspire one other.

Family businesses often choose to take a long-term approach to their business objectives, that will serve both the current needs of the business along with the needs of any future generations. We often find that the shared values and aspirations that sit at the heart of many multi-generational family firms focus around the business remaining dynamic and able to react to change, as well as ensuring long-term employment and sustainable growth.

The family business legacy

Family businesses are part of a legacy, and their commitment to not only survive but grow, have shaped the development of what The Family Business Network offers.

We have found the values, approach and challenges shared by family businesses allows them to benefit greatly from being able to access the support of peers, network with like-minded businesses and having a safe, encouraging environment to foster positive change, growth and sustainability.

With 4.8 million family businesses in the UK, of which over 18,000 are medium and large businesses, this is a diverse sector which can learn from each other.

One of our key aims as co-directors of this growing network is to provide a voice for family businesses of all sizes, working in all sectors and across multiple regions of the UK.

Choice of events, programmes and support

Where other networks offer a membership model, from the outset The Family Business Network has taken a different approach. With no membership tie-in, family businesses are free to pick and choose the events, programmes and support services that best suit their needs. We have always been eager to ensure that what we offer truly meets the needs of family businesses and that these remain at the heart of what we do.

Celebrating family business successes

Celebrating the successes of family businesses is also important to us, to help raise the profile of the sector and champion those individuals involved. We were able to do this through the creation and running of the Cumbria Family Business Awards  which have taken place annually since 2017. Many of the businesses who took part in the awards have told us how beneficial the process has been to their brand awareness, and business growth through their achievements being recognised.

In 2020 we will see these awards involve into our inaugural North West Family Business Awards, which aim to provide an opportunity for North West family firms located in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside and Lancashire to also share and celebrate their successes as well as Cumbria.

Ambition for The Family Business Network

Our ambition and hope is that The Family Business Network continues to unite, support and champion the family business community, giving this diverse and remarkable sector a voice, a sense of belonging and a plethora of unique opportunities for sharing, learning and growing.

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