New digital platform allows family firms to support each other

Launching the new NI Family Business Forum platform are HM partner Angela Craigan and senior partner Darren McDowell

NINE in 10 family businesses fear a loss of revenue over the next six months in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, while cash flow continues to be a concern for six out of 10 firms.

But family firms are generally standing firm and pulling together in the face of the most challenging business climate for 30 years.

They are among the key findings in a survey undertaken on behalf of the NI Family Business Forum, released to coincide with National Family Business Day taking place on Wednesday September 23.

And the survey is complemented by the launch of a new members-only digital platform which aims to connect the north’s family business community.

Darren McDowell, senior partner at Harbinson Mulholland, which founded the forum three years ago, said: “The family business sector represents a resilient bunch of people. Our mission is to help them acclimatise to the current environment by offering guidance which will help keep them going through the tough times ahead.

“While our events programme has had to go on hold, we're confident the online platform will ensure members have the opportunity to continue to network with each other, share experiences and offer mutual support in an exclusive and private space.”

The family business survival survey was carried out in partnership with Ulster University Business School and its academic partners Dublin City University and University of Central Florida.

Among the findings, 77 per cent of respondents aren't worried about the possibility of losing their business, and 69 per cent are comparatively unconcerned about being forced to sell or close their doors.

Angela Craigan, partner at Harbinson Mulholland, said: “Almost every business is facing disruption due to Covid-19 and it’s clear family businesses have never been as threatened as they are today.

“Each firm’s struggle is unique. Some are fighting to stay alive or managing the implications of a significant revenue decline, while others are dealing with increased demand and stressed supply chains.

“This unique study reveals how they are navigating the pandemic as well as providing insights into survival strategies which can help businesses continue to operate successfully and help sustain them for generations to come.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access