57% of UK independent small businesses are family run, they are among the fastest growing group of enterprises in the country and, according to the Institute for family business (IFB) generate over a quarter of UK GDP.

Whether it’s been handed down through the generations or it’s simply your wife who does the bookkeeping, most of the businesses I work with are family run.

Running a family business does mean you will face some very unique challenges not least because there is a familiarity among family members that you would not experience with “normal” employees. The transition of ownership to the next generation is one of the most complex challenges for an inherited business but the trials run through to even the youngest of enterprises. Say, for example, a trainee doesn’t pass their probation and you need to let them go… not so easy when it’s a nephew.

In the most common situation – where you have a relative doing the bookkeeping but not particularly well (we’ve seen this one a few times) there can be many hurdles to overcome.

But wait – all is not lost! Family businesses also reap major rewards. When families do well, they are part of the business for life. Loyalty is unquestioned and they will more often than not strive to prove themselves. Most successors aim to hand the business on in better shape than when they received it

There are also many simple things you can do to ensure things run as smoothly as possible. By having robust well documented systems you ensure efficient operations, but also delegation for the owner is made much easier (we know you might think you are the only one that can do these things but there might be another way!). Having systems in place also enables you to ensure values are upheld – especially important for a family-run business.

We have helped many family businesses introduce these kinds of systems into all aspects of their business.

Finally, good communication lies at the heart of successful businesses (and being related does not guarantee effective communication!).

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