We recently updated a few questions from our 2013 Survey of Family Businesses. Below is a summary comparison of the 2013 and 2014 results for those questions.

1. What do you see as your greatest training and development need over the next 5 years?

In 2103, leadership, managerial, and coaching skills were cited by 41% of respondents, while 35% cited "technical skills for my industry." This year, possibly reflective of company growth, the need to find skilled workers was the number-one concern (55%). The need for CNC and IT workers was of particular importance. Only about 15% of respondents mentioned the need for leadership, managerial, and coaching skills. The next biggest need (7%) in the 2014 survey was the development of a sales staff.

2. Does your company have a formal strategic plan, and if so, when it was last reviewed/updated?

The numbers were very similar from year to year. In 2013, 31% responded affirmatively, and in 2014, 27%. When it came to reviewing or updating their plan, this year 95% of respondents reported last reviewing their plan in 2012. In last year's survey, 41% had reviewed their plan two year's prior, and an equal number in the last year. In both surveys, the average plan looked out over five years.

3. What is your greatest concern regarding growth of your business?

2013

2014

Slow economy

29%

17%

Overall business costs

16%

28%

Taxes

5%

10%

Healthcare costs

16%

7%

Regulatory costs

3%

4%

Labor costs

2%

4%

Competition

6%

7%

Difficulty finding employees

10%

16%

Other

13%

7%

Total

100%

100%

Interestingly, when the question was presented in terms of greatest external and internal business challenges, responses changed slightly. For internal challenges, the most frequent comment (32%) was about finding, motivating, and developing employees. In response to external challenges, two items stood out: the difficult competitive environment resulting from state regulations, and adjusting to foreign competition.