Aspiring entrepreneurs turn to family partnerships

One in three Britons would pick a family member as a business partner, research finds.

The figure rises to two in five (40 per cent) among 18-34-year-olds, according to a survey by Barclays Business.

The study also reveals three in five UK adults (61 per cent) would want to pass on a family business to the younger generation in their family if they had the opportunity, however 23 per cent of those over 55 fear that the younger generation would not want to inherit it.

The ‘Second Generation Family SMEs in the UK’ report reveals fewer businesses are being passed down to grandchildren, with the number of businesses handed on to the next generation falling by 136,000 since 2007.

Currently, 570,000 family-run UK SMEs have been in the family for more than one generation. Seven in ten (71 per cent) of these have been in the family for two generations, while 29 per cent have made it through to the third generation and beyond.

Rebecca McNeil, director of business lending and enterprise at Barclays Business says, ‘Family-owned SME businesses are at the heart of the UK economy and a valuable heritage. Owning and running a business with your family can be as aspirational for many Brits as owning your own house. We’ve seen some customers bank with us for over 100 years and others who have carried their business down through seven generations or more.’

When it comes to the relative most people want as a business partner, siblings are top of the poll, with 27 per cent saying a brother or sister is their top pick if they went into business with a family member.

This is closely followed by fathers with 9 per cent of the vote, while mothers (7 per cent) and cousins (5 per cent) are third and fourth choice.

Trust is the reason 64 per cent of Britons who would consider setting up with family would turn to their kin as business partner.

Those surveyed cited being their own boss (34 per cent), input into the direction of the business (17 per cent) and greater responsibility (8 per cent) among their top reasons for mixing family with business.

Practical elements also play a significant role, like better balance for childcare commitments (9 per cent) and the ability to work from home or stop commuting (12 per cent).

McNeil adds, ‘The old childhood game of playing ‘shop’ with siblings is actually a reality for brothers and sisters who want to work in the family business together. While working with a relative may not be for everyone, it can also be a recipe for success.

‘We know that by 2018 these businesses will contribute over £120 billion to the UK economy so it’s important that they are supported and continue to remain in the family.’

Further reading on starting a business

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.