The power of family

At RDZ we seem to have a theme within our customer portfolio.  Most of our clients are fast-growing, ambitious, entrepreneurial businesses – this goes without saying I guess, as they are working with us and we love, and share, their enthusiasm and drive.

 A large proportion of those we work with are also family businesses; all exhibit the great qualities already mentioned but there is also something quite unique about the way they approach business and this, we believe, is the key to their success.

Those who decide to work in ’the family firm’ do, without doubt, have something of a head start. After all they have been exposed to, and to a degree most probably involved in, the activities and mechanics of the operation throughout their childhood. This may be one of the main keys to the success we witness, but another significant factor, we suspect is the unparalleled support shown at critical points in the business journey – for example when scaling operations or expanding into new markets. Self-made entrepreneurs seldom benefit from access to the same kind of expertise and network of contacts who know them well and genuinely have their very best interests at heart.

In the past family businesses were generally thought of as being very ‘quaint’ and the word entrepreneurial was seldom used to describe their attitude or culture.  Today’s family businesses couldn’t be further from that old-fashioned image and this is backed-up by the fact that they now contribute somewhere close to £460 billion to the UK’s GDP and employ over 12 million people.  It’s fair to say that there are some large players within these figures (think Warburtons, Arnold Clark, Samworth Brothers and the like) but, putting the multi-sited giants to one side, this nation’s family businesses are most definitely contributing vastly to the strength of the private sector as a whole.

In our experience the way that family businesses operate has changed significantly over the decades.  The ‘handed down’ version, where parents held the reins very tightly until they could no longer manage and then reluctantly passed the power to a son or daughter, is something we ourselves seldom (if ever) see.  The modern model is a much more dynamic and forward-thinking company, which not only considers aspects of day-to-day business but also plans for the growth and changes in family structure and involvement of specific family members.

Historically, the spreading of profits amongst a growing number of interested parties (and the dissemination of power to a group which may include those with no business experience at all) was the downfall of a hitherto successful enterprise when it reached the third or fourth generation.  Good future planning and the nurturing of a culture of collaborative success – both very obvious aspects of today’s average family business – seem to be effective in the avoidance of family feuds and divisions in loyalty and this is why we at RDZ PR very much expect to see them thrive for many more generations to come.

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Rachel Hargrave

Rachel has over 30 years of local, regional, national and international communications experience and expertise across a wide variety of clients including FTSE 100 companies, SMEs, micro businesses and start-ups. She also has extensive charity, Not-For-Profit and Community Interest Company experience and happily offers clients working in these areas a 50% discount on all RDZ PR rates.

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