Confidence Up Amongst Family Firms, But Barriers to Export Still Exist
9th November 2015
- Almost two thirds (57%) of family-run firms have seen their business prospects improve over the past 12 months
- Half of family businesses are optimistic about their growth over the next year, and a further 62 per cent feel even more confident about the next five years
- Despite many family businesses having a long-standing exporting history, many feel significant barriers still exist when it comes to trading overseas
Family businesses across the UK are in a better position than they were 12 months ago but still have reservations when it comes to exporting, according to new research from the Institute for Family Business (IFB).
The monthly IFB Policy Sruvey, which canvasses the views of family-run firms across the UK, has revealed that over half (57%) of the businesses surveyed stated they had seen an improvement in their business prospects since last year. Furthermore, 50 per cent of respondents said they are more optimistic about growth opportunities in the UK economy than they were 12 months ago and are confident that their expansion will continue to increase over the next five years.
The report also shows that a significant proportion of family businesses have a long exporting history, with almost three quarters (71%) indicating they have been operating overseas for at least 15 years or more.
The European Union is the most popular markets for overseas trading with 86% of respondents citing they operate here, followed by North America (77%), Australia (71%) and Central, Southern and East Asia (71%).
Commenting on the report’s findings, Mark Hastings, Director General of the IFB, said: “It’s encouraging to hear that so many business leaders feel their performance has improved throughout 2015 and are already looking to the year ahead with confidence, both in terms of their own business prospects and the UK’s economic performance.
“Given the high percentage of companies that have been trading overseas for more than 15 years, it is clear that exporting is a key part of many firms’ business plans. It is also good to see that the EU remains a key market for international traders, and any businesses that are considering expansion abroad should certainly look to the EU as a viable prospect. Free circulation, and similar trading and regulatory standards to the UK, means exporting to the EU is a great place for firms to gain experience before expanding even further afield.”
However, despite the fact that so many family businesses are already successfully trading in multiple international markets, the report also reveals that those that are not currently doing so have a number of reservations about trading overseas.
When asked what they feel are the biggest barriers, almost two thirds (60%) of family businesses cited a lack of local market knowledge and a lack of resource within their business. This was followed by not enough local partners and insufficient advice from government agencies.
Mark Hastings added: “It is concerning that family businesses still feel they do not have the right support needed to make the move abroad, particularly when there is such a wealth of resources and information available to firms in the UK – many of which are completely free to use.
“Whether its practical tips and advice from organisations like UK Trade & Investment; guidance on how to access finance through a bank or government grant; working with a business mentor or joining a network of like-minded business leaders to share best practice – it is about finding a solution that works and firms should ensure they thoroughly research the different tools available to help them in their exporting efforts.”