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Meet our members: Greg Griffith, Family Business Australia

National Family Business Day is coming up this Friday, 17 September so we sat down with Greg Griffith, CEO of Family Business Australia, to find out what's special about family business, just how many businesses in Australia are family run, and what FBA does for small and family businesses. If you want to get involved in National Family Business Day, more information is here.

What does your association do for small and family businesses?

Family Business Australia is the peak body for the family business sector, with a membership of approx. 3,200 family business members of all manner and size.

At Family Business Australia (FBA) our purpose is to help family business thrive and prosper. We do this by assisting family businesses to harness their unique competitive advantage. Leveraging ‘family business’ as an asset is what truly sets our members apart from their competition and FBA has been successfully helping family business along that path for the past 23 years. We provide access to education and training for family-specific and general business development, and generate opportunities for families in business to learn and grow by networking and sharing with their peers. In addition, FBA works in the space where family, business, and ownership all intersect.

Do you have a background in family business?

My business background covers many different industry sectors, however there is a common theme that has emerged. I have found that my career has centred on working for community minded, membership-based organisations.

This diverse background has provided me with a certain understanding and trust that comes when working within the family business sector. When a family works together and shares their trials and tribulations with others, it’s not just a job, it’s an environment that is inspiring for everyone to be involved in. To be in a business that has the ‘future’ of the family at the forefront of our thinking means these philosophies are often reflected in our business practices and how they relate to our members, which benefits from that investment and trust.

Why did FBA decide to join COSBOA?

In 2013, FBA produced its Parliamentary Joint Committee report on Corporations & Financial Services. This report to the Federal Government was to begin a conversation that will give serious consideration to the questions such as: 'What is Family Business?' 'What contribution do these family businesses make to the economy and the community?' And 'how should family businesses be supported?' Just to name a few.

One major outcome from that report was the creation of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman office. COSBOA plays an important roll in advocating on behalf of small business, and based on the close relationship between ASBFEO & COSBOA for obvious reasons, a strategic alliance with COSBOA is a very important partnership for our organisation. With a quarter of our membership made up of small family business operators, our relationship with COSBOA plays an important role in allowing FBA to have a dedicated voice in Canberra via COSBOA regarding issues and concerns affecting our small family business members.

How has the family business sector been impacted by COVID-19?

Based on the Family Business Survey 2021, to be released on National Family Business Day 2021 (17 September 2021), pleasingly, and despite the economic upheaval of 2020/21, 76% of family businesses said COVID-19 did not have any impact their succession plan.

Of our membership ownership profile of respondents, 81% were first or second generation. Of those who reported a delay in succession planning, the proportion of incumbent founders/first gens was significantly higher than in other generations. We believe there are two contributing factors to this result:

1. Companies that have already experienced at least one generational transition may be more prepared to deal with external events (such as a global pandemic); and

2. New entrants onto the family business scene means we have many “younger” founders and first generation owners still scaling up and prepared to work through the complications from the pandemic.

What is something most people don’t realise about the family business sector?

The most common thread that surprises people when you talk about the family business sector is the size. Family run businesses account for approximately 70% of all businesses in Australia and there are over 1.4 million Australian family businesses operating with an estimated wealth of $4.3 trillion. Australians also prefer to buy from family businesses.

What do you love most about the family business sector?

Very simply it’s the people and the families that make this a very special place. No matter how big or small the family business, the common denominator is the family. At FBA, we focus on the family within the business vs the business of the family, so when we have someone tell their family story, you see everyone in the room nodding their head in agreement as there is a little bit of something that they connect to. No matter the size or complexity of the business, family is family and you see the sheer openness and willingness of those to support one another and to ensure that they are not on their own as they work their way through that own family business journey. It’s very inspiring.

Why is National Family Business Day an important day?

National Family Business Day is a chance to celebrate family business in all its forms. All family businesses, no matter how small or large they are, have one collective thing in common: they all have a family business story to tell. Whether they’re a multi-generation business, a dynamic husband and wife duo or siblings, each of their businesses are interwoven with their family values and ethos. Family businesses aren’t just in business for profits. With our support, they are building a legacy and future for their families for generations to come.

This National Family Business Day, we want families to take a moment to stop and reflect with their family and their staff about the benefits of being a family business. Being a family business is an asset to doing business and we like to encourage all family businesses in Australia to celebrate with us by holding a morning tea with their family and colleagues (whether that be at your workplace or an online morning tea celebration, depending on your local COVID-19 restrictions) on Friday, 17 September. There are a number of ways family businesses can get involved this September, with more information found here.


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