If you are a family business you may want to do some research on issues and challenges you are facing but you also may be struggling to find good content. Here are 5 great sites that I think you will find useful.
Most people will now head to Google for their research on a particular subject, whether that is when you are thinking of buying something, going on holiday, looking for somewhere to eat or, if you are anything like me, looking for a diagnosis of some exotic disease when you get a runny nose!
I have therefore put together what I think are some of the best places on the web for families in business, and their advisers to head to if they are interested in finding out more about the challenges that other businesses are facing, either locally or from around the world.
The Institute for Family Business – www.ifb.org.uk
The IFB are the UK’s family business organisation. They are a not for profit organisation that is member led. They are set up in a way that means they are truly focussed on serving family businesses. Their Board, for example, is made up of family business owners and managers.
The site itself has several decent links, if you sign up as a member (which comes at a cost) you get full access to the site, which includes things like free access to forum events, which are a place to share stories and experiences with fellow family businesses.
You also get access to all the publications that are available on the site.
You also get a discount on the events that they run for and by family businesses and there are some good looking events happening, there is even the opportunity to gain some leadership training with none other than Al Gore!!!
Some of the other events that are held include an annual conference, events aimed specifically at next generation and specific examples and case studies from other family businesses.
What I like about this community, which might sound counter intuitive, is that you are only able to become a member if you are a family business, there is therefore less of a chance of events being hijacked by over enthusiastic ‘family business experts’ shoving their off the shelf solutions down your throat!
If I can be slightly critical of The IFB site, I would perhaps say it could do with a bit of a refresh, just to make access to the really good information a little more intuitive, but that is perhaps a harsh statement given all the good things that they do.
The IFB are an organisation that really want to support the family businesses of the UK and beyond and are doing so in a way that isn’t patronising.
Family Business United – www.familybusinessunited.com
Next on the list is the website and membership organisation Family Business United. This is headed up by a chap called Paul Andrews who is a fantastic advocate for family enterprises in the UK.
He has built a membership community and a website that not only looks good but provides a whole host of articles and thought leadership pieces from a mixture of family businesses and their advisers.
There is a broad range of articles and features on site and I am confident that you would be able to find something on any subject you were looking for.
It is very easy to spend a while on the site because it is well laid out and separated into specific sections so if there is something you are interested in you can get a range of views and opinions.
Away from the site, FBU is also a membership organisation and again holds events throughout the year that are aimed at raising the profile of family firms in the UK.
Paul also tours the UK every year visiting and showcasing a wide range of family businesses and highlighting the excellent work that they do.
FBU is also a membership organisation and there are benefits to becoming a member, you can share your own stories or publish articles.
You also get discounted rates to events and perhaps the biggest event that FBU hold is their annual family business conference.
This is an opportunity to hear stories and best practice from family businesses that have experiences, good and bad to share.
You also get to network during the breaks and whilst it is open to advisers as well as family businesses the atmosphere at the conference lends itself to genuine networking rather then being pushed into a corner and lectured to.
Tharawat Magazine – www.tharawat-magazine.com/familybusiness
The Tharawat Magazine is a collection of articles and great content that can be accessed either through a published ‘hard’ copy or web based version. The web based version is cheaper and only $15 a year.
In addition to the magazine the website itself is a great looking site that highlights articles and insights from across the world of family business.
It tends to feature more established businesses but the quality of the articles is very high and there is enough there to learn something or read something interesting.
They have recently added a specific section on their site (follow the link above) that is dedicated to family business and this is a very well put together. It combines all sorts of media and again splits the site into sections depending on what you are interested in.
There are articles on there covering family relationships, success stories and case studies. There is also the ‘Family Business 101’ where you can learn the basics about the issues and challenges that family businesses face.
I think this is something that will continue to develop and improve and I am personally looking forward to what else is coming from Tharawat.
PwC are a massive global accountancy business, and so it might not be surprising that they are able to commit some resources to creating interesting articles and insights from their network of advisers around the world.
What I like about the PwC site is that it is not just focussed on what PwC can do for you.
PwC also conduct a global survey every couple of years where they ask a number of family businesses a load of questions that helps to highlight some of the key issues that are affecting family enterprises across the world. They then break that down into geographical areas so that you can see how UK firms compare to others around the world.
There are common themes that come out of the survey and rather than just telling you about the challenges that are being faced across the UK and beyond, there are thought leadership pieces and ideas as to how family businesses can overcome these.
There are videos, interviews, case studies and access to the data on the site and these aren’t just UK focussed so you can get a feel for what is happening beyond our shores.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to the launch event for the 2016 survey and they had some fascinating guest speakers giving their views on the findings.
PwC seem keen to support the sector and provide guidance on issues away from the accountancy side of things.
Ernst and Young – www.familybusiness.ey-vx.com/home/home.aspx
EY have teamed up with the University of St Gallen in Switzerland and so are producing content that has some academic basis. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea but is interesting to those who want to understand a little more on the theoretical side of things.
There is a mix of media on the site and as well as written content there are videos and again global surveys.
EY also hold roundtable events for idea and best practice sharing. They have a next generation academy and run an annual summit.
As with PwC there is no membership fees and all the content is available to you if you want to consume it. I think both PwC and EY understand that this information is likely to be out there anyway so why not be the ones to produce it and to produce it well.
For these firms to be successful they need their clients and potential clients to be successful and that starts with providing useful insights and information