There are nearly five million family businesses in the UK.  Many of them facing challenges, specific to their very nature.  Three such examples are:

Work / life balance

Key decision makers’ lives are so interwoven in this particular business dynamic, that key professional decisions can be more readily affected by differences in personality and opinion.  Often, such differences have nothing to do with the task in-hand.

Professional disagreements can spill into family time, making for awkward mealtimes.  Separating work and family time can be difficult, yet critical.

Generational differences

Naturally, many family businesses are passed on through the generations, usually with a crossover that can see several generations active in the company at once.

Differences of opinion around strategic business direction can, of course, occur in any business.  Longstanding and established owners may show reluctance for change, while newer management can often be more eager to implement significant alterations.  In family businesses, decisions can be about family dynamics, as much as skillset-based judgments.


For many young people, joining the family business offers their first taste of a successful career which can also facilitate continued succession of the family business. The, often unique, business-wide exposure gained early on in their careers can be a fantastic springboard and joining the business provides much more than the obvious choice.

For some, however, joining the family business can feel more like an obligation than a choice. There’s an expectation that they’ll learn the ropes and eventually take over – thoughts of a different future can be tempered or forgotten.

An awareness of the pull between loyalty and ambition of younger generations is important. Expectations of continued family succession can (and do) backfire. Like any other business, a range of succession options should be planned for.

Magma can help

We work with many successful family businesses, our support and advice both commercially tuned and empathetic. If any of the above sound familiar, please contact Mark Tuckwell or Will Lodder on 01788 539000.


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