The family business is a cornerstone of American entrepreneurship. So how is it going?
The health of established family businesses can be a barometer of the broader entrepreneurial environment.
PricewaterhouseCoopers released the findings from its biennial U.S. Global Family Business Survey Monday, which reflected the responses of 100 business owners, leaders, and top executives in U.S. family firms across a variety of industries.
Gleaned from this recent report, here are five things you need to know about the current state of the family business.
U.S. family businesses are more confident about their growth prospects than their global counterparts. Of those surveyed stateside, 93 percent expressed confidence about growth, compared with 81% of respondents across the pond.
Talent shortage effects family businesses, too. Tough competition was cited as a challenge by 61% of respondents, while 52% noted the tough process of finding workers with the right skills and talents. "The talent shortage in particular has been a persistent challenge for companies, as we’ve seen in the past three consecutive surveys,” said Alfred Peguero, PwC’s U.S. Family Offices Services leader. “This is where family businesses can step up and become part of the solution. Through on-the-job training and partnering with local schools, they have an opportunity to play a vital role in creating jobs and growing the economy.”
The economy is no longer inciting panic. Though 68% of small business owners say they are concerned about ongoing market conditions, that number is down substantially. In PwC's last survey two years ago, 88% of respondents cited choppy market waters as a major concern.
Slow and steady (eventually) wins the race? Declining worry about market conditions may be more about tempered expectations than a blissful all-is-well attitude, however. Reflecting this cautious outlook, 82% of respondents said they expect their businesses to grow steadily over the next five years, while only 11% expect to expand rapidly.
Family businesses are increasingly looking abroad to grow and expand. Nearly half are already heading abroad, while 54% expect to be looking overseas in the near future. In PwC’s last survey two years ago, only 30% of respondents said they had an eye on overseas markets. “Fortunately, family businesses inherently have the entrepreneurship that is needed to keep pace in the global economy,” Peguero said.
JULIE STRICKLAND covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurial endeavors of all kinds for Inc. Her work has been published in Brooklyn Based and City Limits in New York, the Free Times in Columbia, SC, Real Travel Magazine in London, and Daegu Pockets in South Korea. She lives in New York City. @Jules5168