Family businesses feel pinch

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 07 Juli 2013 | 19.55

A NEW survey of business confidence among family business owners shows many feel like they are surviving rather than thriving.

And while small business confidence in Tasmania has risen recently, the state's peak small business group says there is still a long way to go before confidence is fully restored.

The MGI Australian Family and Private Business Survey 2013 revealed a gloomy outlook among Australian family businesses. Key findings were:

  • THREE-quarters of owners have experienced profitability and market conditions that had remained the same or declined in the past three years.
  • LESS than 40 per cent of those surveyed have positive expectations of market improvement in the next 12 months.
  • NINETY-one per cent of owners say they are dissatisfied with the Federal Government's support for family business.
  • EIGHTY-three per cent feel the Federal Opposition is no better when it comes to supporting the sector.
  • IN the past 10 years family businesses operating in the manufacturing sector have halved from 40 per cent to 20 per cent.
  • IN the past three years the number of owners aged over 65 has increased from 12 to 25 per cent.

Lauren Chandler, of Hobart family business Chandlers Nursery, said the challenge for smaller family-owned businesses was to offer products and services that set them apart from larger competitors.

The Sandy Bay nursery was established in 1888, making it one of Tasmania's oldest family-owned businesses.

"We're really lucky, as we've been here for so long we really rely on the people that have been coming here for years," Miss Chandler said.

Miss Chandler, 28, said she rejoined the family business earlier this year after working in other industries because she felt confident Chandlers had a good future.

She said a growing interest in gardening and backyard vegetable growing, along with a loyal long-term clientele, kept Chandlers going strong.

"I'm confident we will be here for another 125 years," she said.

Tasmanian Small Business Council executive officer Robert Mallett said succession planning was a major factor for family businesses.

He said while the Sensis Business Index released last week showed a rise in business confidence in Tasmania, it was from such a low base that confidence could still not be considered strong in Tasmania.

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