The Private & Family Enterprise Exchange


Blog Post #3 | Monday, 7th September 2015

Positioning yourself as a Family Business

In recent research, approximately 60% of consumers say they appreciate the notion of family and a third of all consumers say that, all else being equal, they actually prefer buying from family companies.  Family businesses are seen as more authentic and trustworthy, and are also celebrated for the sense of community one feels when engaging with them.  People feel more confident about buying from a family owned company.  These attributes are particularly important in volatile and somewhat uncertain times, with the Aussie dollar dipping to below 70 US cents and political unrest, it is a time where long standing, responsible institutions are valued more than ever.

Family businesses that both capture and communicate their family identity have a distinct competitive advantage.  Despite this, many family businesses are missing out on leveraging this huge opportunity and are not weaving the story of their family business into their marketing and communications.

Why is the family business story so valuable?  Well aside from the aforementioned authenticity, trustworthiness and purchaser confidence, the story gives your family business brand a sense of purpose.  Part of a marketer’s job is to create a sense of purpose so that a brand can stand out in the market place.  In a family business all you need to do is look inside – the purpose is already there and you just need to find a way to articulate it and capture it in your communications.  A business with purpose is absolutely one that will stand out from the crowd.   A purpose makes customers and prospects feel good about working with you or buying from you or interacting with your brand.

So if incorporating your family business story into your communications is such an obvious opportunity, why aren’t all family business capitalising on this?

Mostly, people don’t know how or where to start and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the task at hand.  I recommend starting with a marketing and communications professional with expertise not only in marketing but in brand storytelling.   You have the story, the vision and the purpose built into your DNA and they have the expertise to embed these into your communications and bring your family business story to life.

Remember that your brand is not just your logo.  Your brand is your business in the most holistic sense.   It starts with your logo, and encompasses everything including how your staff answer the phone, what you post on social media platforms, what you send out of your business, the culture of your business and the kind of language you use in your communications.  The strategy of marketing yourself as a family business isn’t about changing your logo.  It is about tailoring your businesses messaging so it can effectively tell your story and communicate the business purpose across several different channels.

Marketing & Communications Expert Ella Collings from Talking Sticks will go deeper into this topic at the Private & Family Enterprise Exchange Event on Thursday, October 8th, 2015 at the WatervieW in Sydney Olympic Park. Click here to Register.

Blog Post #2 | Wednesday, 26th August 2015

Succession Planning

Succession planning is a critical challenge for private and family owned businesses however, the process that underpins it provides the best chance of creating a sustainable business that reflects the vision of the Founder and succeeds across multiple generations.  It is best to keep an open mind on the many succession options available and also to be clear on the different elements of succession planning.

And then what?

Critical to the Succession Planning being addressed is the owner’s vision of what life will look like when he or she firstly, reduces time spent in the business and finally, exits the day to day operations.  Is there still a part-time role for them in the business and what activities and interests will occupy their time?  The more the Founder or current owner has to look forward to and get excited about, the more likely it is that Succession Planning gets underway.  The emotional impact of these questions cannot be underestimated and it’s often the underlying reason that Succession Planning is sidelined.  Taking on a Business Coach can be a great support at this point as they can identify the owner’s strengths and interests and help them develop a life and business plan post family business.

Management Succession Planning

Management succession planning is focused on the key areas of Operations, Finance and Administration and Sales and Marketing.  It’s about who will be responsible for what.  In his just published book, ‘On Your Terms’, Succession and Exit planning expert Andrew Cassin outlines four steps for management succession - identify the key roles in the organisation that require successors, determine the key competencies and capabilities required for these roles, define how they will be translated into the organisational structure and identify the talent within the organisation who are to be groomed for these roles’.

Ownership Succession Planning

What a complex issue this one can be in a family business but, in a nutshell, it is the process of developing and putting in place a plan to transfer the business assets to the next generation.  A key consideration is will ownership succeed to one or multiple owners and, if multiple owners, how will shares be apportioned?  The next generation family members often have no clue about the Founder’s transition plans which can cause frustration and impact on family dynamics. The issue that appears to cause the most friction is treating the children inside and outside the business fairly and equitably – and be seen to do so.  It is important to get expert legal, tax and financial advice from advisers and professionals with expertise and credentials in the family business space.

How can an Advisory Board contribute to the succession conversation?

A key role of any Advisory Board is to get Succession Planning on the table and ensure the process stays on track.  Having non-family members on the Board introduces an objective perspective that offsets the emotional and subjective tendencies of the family.  It can also go a long way in reassuring the family members working in the business that issues that will have a far reaching impact on their lives and careers are being addressed.

Brad Steyne from Brasco, and Bran Chan from the Banna Group will be speaking at The Private & Family Enterprise Exchange Event on Thursday, October 8th, 2015 at the WatervieW in Sydney Olympic Park. Both of these family companies have established Advisory Boards and while they are at different stages in their evolution, both agree that it was a great move. Come along to the event and learn more about how they engaged other stakeholders in the journey, how they found the right people and what benefits they Advisory Board is bringing to the business, including the fundamental role it’s playing in their succession planning.

Blog Post #1 | Friday, 21st August 2015

Spotlight on Midsize Business in a noisy ‘SME’ marketplace

Often we hear about ‘SMEs’ or Small to Medium sized businesses. The term is thrown around a lot, and it’s generally understood to cover anything that isn’t a larger corporate organization. We want to get more specific and talk the MSB, or Medium Sized Business. Why? MSBs make a significant contribution to the Australian GDP and there is an obvious growth trend for these businesses. Many family businesses sit within the MSB category, so with help from our Partner Grant Thornton, we are going to delve a little deeper and discover the opportunities and challenges of MSBs.

The mid-market in Australia is the engine of our local economies, providing employment throughout Australia.  Over 1/3 of all MSBs reside within New South Wales, however they are growing nation wide. They are growing faster than many other companies in the country. This growth is driving increased employment, productivity and value for Australia as we compete on a global stage.


According to Grant Thornton, significantly more mid-size businesses in Australia are optimistic about their growth prospects than in other countries.  “Mid-size businesses in Australia can trade internationally on our national identity.  Australia is seen as a place of plenty; plenty of work/ life balance, plenty of clean, green spaces and plenty of good governance.  In short, Australia is a safe place to do business for many overseas companies and they are looking for opportunities to collaborate with Australian midsize businesses.” See full research piece by Grant Thornton


MSBs are likely to need funding to help them grow. They are twice as likely as other businesses in the Australian economy to seek debt or equity finance. They need this injection of money to capitalise on opportunities and to deal with the challenges encountered by a growing, entrepreneurial business culture.  The cost of developing opportunities in new markets is the greatest barrier to midmarket businesses becoming more export focussed.

Why does this matter to family businesses?

Access to finance for growth, as well as the cost of exploring new markets, is impeding growth in the midmarket sector. Family businesses need to plan and strategize now to ensure they can capitalize on the opportunities that will come their way.

How do we overcome the challenges and ride this wave of opportunity? Australia’s proximity to emerging markets is a huge competitive advantage for Australian companies. Being a family business is even more of a competitive edge given that the Asian business landscape is dominated by family businesses. An example of this is a Sydney based family business that was up against much bigger companies for a contract in Asia – and, because they were a family business, they won the deal.

MSBs need the right strategies in place to ensure that exploring new markets and accessing the finance to fund growth, or any other issues that arise, aren’t barriers to their growth.

If you want to find out more about growing your midsized family business, a leading business specialist from Grant Thornton will speak on this topic at the Private & Family Enterprise Exchange Event on Thursday, October 8th, 2015 at the WatervieW in Sydney Olympic Park. He will provide some insights on navigating the main challenges to growth ensuring your business is ready to capitalise on the many opportunities ahead.