Edition 255 – New Blooms

Happy New Year! May 2021 bring you and your family good health, much happiness and great prosperity.

Over the Christmas break, I’ve been pondering what 2021 will look like for family business. Here’s my thoughts:

  1. 2021 will continue to experience degrees of disruption to our daily lives. Perhaps not as much as ‘20, but don’t expect to return to the “normality” of life in 2019. That’s gone forever.
  2. State based border closures will heighten the question around the effectiveness of our Federation this year and how much power the Federal Government yields. It seems the Feds have to foot the bill for failures within the States, but have little control over their decisions.
  3. There is a crunch coming in the Retail space. Job Keeper has held it off. However, the combination of COVID 19 and the significant ramp up of online shopping throughout 2020 spells trouble for retailers and the landlords of retailers.
  4. The best investment you can make in your family business in 2021 is in your people. It’s not just courses and learning. I’m talking about employers investing in long term nurturing and development of their staff.
  5. The suburbanisation of our large cities will continue. I don’t see the major CBDs coming back to where they were. If Westpac Bank have sent 85% of their staff home from their Barangaroo office in the Sydney CBD, this is a model they can replicate across the country in non-retail facing roles.
  6. Automation will ramp up considerably in areas that you least expect. If Coles can replace 350 workers in its Smeaton Grange warehouse with robots by 2023, it shows you how quickly the take up of this technology is progressing – and how affordable it is becoming.
  7. Offshore call centres will gradually return to Australia. With high speed internet, good phone coverage and increasingly functional IT, why can’t a spare bedroom in a home in Griffith NSW, Warrnambool VIC or Kingaroy QLD operate as an outpost of an Australian based call centre?
  8. The noise around “Buy Now Pay Later” providers will grow louder. Some of that noise will come from interest groups representing low and middle income earners. Some of it will come from the businesses that have taken up the concept – and are now facing the large cost of its adoption.
  9. There is a growing parochialism within the states, particularly in my own state of New South Wales, as a result of border closures. That doesn’t bode well for tourism, particularly for states like Queensland and Tasmania where New South Wales and Victoria account for up to 80% of the tourism dollar spend.
  10. The Federal Government will need to make a big play to attract a manufacturing base in Australia. We can’t be a country that either digs up stuff or sits in offices. We need to innovate and value add.
  11. Mental health will be a critical issue for a number of family business throughout 2021, for both staff and owners. Financial and people resources will need to be invested by businesses to manage the wellbeing of your staff.
  12. The increasingly concerning actions of China in its attitude towards trade with Australia will create a backlash at the consumer level. Businesses with a reasonable proportion of Chinese manufactured goods in their range will see customers seeking alternate options – or an alternate business from where to purchase from.
  13. Consumer activism will become a mainstream issue for family businesses. Questions around the environmental impact of your business practices, the ethical sourcing of products and services and the fair pay and treatment of your staff will be raised at the business to business level, not just the business to consumer level.

The year ahead will be challenging and exciting. For family businesses whose owners and managers embrace both the speed and the dynamics of change that is taking place in the modern world, growth is at your feet. For those that lament the days of yore, it’s going to get rocky.


Take a moment to consider what’s happening in your industry right now
– and how you can best take advantage of that in your family business..

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