About the Survey
About the PwC Family Business Survey 2012
We’ve talked to almost 2,000 respondents, large and small, around the world, from both developed and emerging markets, across a broad range of industries. We found remarkable similarities among the diversity.
Scaling Up
Scaling Up
The next frontier for more and more family businesses is overseas expansion: 67% of respondents had some level of international sales in 2012. By 2017, that number will jump to 74%.
Recruiting and retaining the right talent is a challenge for family businesses: 64% of them are planning to bring in non-family management in 2012.
While 4 in 10 respondents will pass on ownership and management to the next generation, 25% will pass on ownership but bring in professional managers,citing the next generations lack of skills as an issue.
Territory insights
Territory insights
While our survey revealed striking similarities among all family businesses, we found -- as might be expected, given the vastly different regional economic conditions around the world -- some significant variations in outlook and habits.
Download the Survey
Read our report on what family businesses in 2012 are thinking and planning as they look to compete in an increasingly global marketplace.

Skills: The difficulty of letting go -- and the need to do just that

Owning a successful business is very different to running a successful business. Our survey has shown us that the distinctive strengths of the family firm could be further enhanced by accessing professional skills and international experience.

This is especially true when it comes to mastering aggressive growth plans. Some family businesses are wary of exporting because they lack the specific skills and experience they need to this effectively. Their reluctance may also spring from an understandable caution, or an inadequate understanding of the real nature of the risks of international expansion.

Another challenge family firms face is that of recruiting and retaining key talent. This is often because the most highly-qualified people have not traditionally opted to work for family firms because they believe that their progress will be artificially constrained by the shareholding structure, and they will achieve greater financial rewards and career fulfilment elsewhere.

The war for talent has not spared the family sector

Nearly 6 in 10 family businesses we surveyed recognise that in order to reach the scale they aspire to in today’s more turbulent and competitive marketplace, they require comprehensive management skills -- including professional managers from outside the family.

Many also recognise that retaining that pivotal outside talent entails offering shares in the company and/or board membership. Indeed, 64 per cent of family businesses presently have non-family board members -- and, while 31 per cent of those non-family members hold shares in the business today, that number is expected to increase to 49 per cent by 2017.

Finally, with the need to continually innovate seen by almost two-thirds of family businesses as their biggest internal challenge going forward, it’s clear that attracting and retaining the right talent is one a key success factor.

Dive into the details

Benchmark your company
Helping you to understand how you compare

How do your challenges, strengths and resilience compare to those of your peers across the world? We've got the qualitative and quantitative data from our large-scale survey of 1,952 family businesses across over 30 countries. We've used this knowledge to create a benchmarking tool that will not only help you see where you are, relative to your peers, but help you set a strategic course for where you want to go. Benchmark your company

What family businesses told us

“The organisational structure [for family firms] is different, a unique challenge. The organisation is a little bit looser because you are trying to accommodate family that you are putting into key positions in the company where their technical skills have not been proven. A lot of the time it takes a gap in time for them to become proficient.”
“[Government needs to provide] better schooling and education especially in regards to math skills. In my experience school leavers can quote philosophers, a poem, but are unable to calculate 3 per cent from 100 Euro or do basic maths.”
“A challenge for family businesses is having the appropriate skill set among family members and pulling someone out if they don't and bringing in outside help.”
“[We need to] bring outsiders onto the board of the company, and learn how to deal with that. Also the organisation of internal processes to streamline our operations. In other words, the professionalisation of management.”
“Potential employees think that within a family business they will not have a future. In order to attract and retain talent we must create an enabling environment for the future.”
“[The risk is you have] a narrow vision in terms of experience, and need to inject new blood to get a different perspective. You can get complacent with a stable mind-set and it would be better to be open or receptive to change.”