Family business matters

The business of families and family businesses

…. there is not always a clear line in the sand between the two when you live, work, and breathe in the same place, often with the same people. However, being able to separate the two can lead to better outcomes, in both camps.


Family Business Matters workshop
Family Business Matters workshop, Townsville, November 2022


Transitioning a family business to the next generation is not an easy process. All too often families just avoid the topic altogether – but this leads to its own difficulties, such as blurring those lines between business members and family members.

Last week, twenty-one grazing businesses from Clermont to Georgetown attended the Family Business Matters Workshop in Townsville to better understand how to start those difficult conversations, learn ways to separate family from business and share ideas on keeping both camps happy and functioning.


“The thing that really resonated with me, is that we all have a choice of how we react to something, regardless of the situation. It was great to hear this said so well by Allan.” — Kayleen Healing, Warrawee Station, Charters Towers.


Allan Parker presents the Family Business Matters workshop
Allan Parker presenting to the group


The event, a collaboration between NQ Dry Tropics and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), had a strongly positive feel about it, with the fifty-plus attendees focused on learning the skills to prioritise the important conversations and how to have those conversations constructively, for both the family and the business. Organisers commented that it was wonderful to see a room full of people proactively considering how to improve their communication and ways to implement this into their business.


“The beauty of today is that it allows families to get together, independent of the kitchen table, and you’re all investing time into being here with a skilled professional. It puts value on the succession process. The positives and the negatives. You can hear what not to do, which then stops you from making the mistakes.” — Des Bolton, Gadara Station.


Family Business Matters workshop
Lynette McGuffie and Allan Parker doing a role play of an unconstructive conversation

Allan Parker, from Peak Performance Development, is an expert in the areas of negotiation and organisational change and is no stranger to people unwilling to compromise. Allan’s teachings focus on finding common ground and the steps to take every day to make families and businesses more functional. Building skills before difficult conversations arise can equip family members to separate the emotion from the conversation and preserve their family relationships.


“Some of the information was things we already knew, but it was really good to hear it again and be reminded why communication and a positive attitude is so important.” — Kayleen Healing


Attendees of the Family Business Matters workshop
Steve Norman, Mt Aberdeen, Peter and Anne Finlay, Julia Park and Del Norman, Mt Aberdeen

Participants had the option to attend one of three breakout sessions in the afternoon:

  • business and legal considerations of succession, with Sonia Chalk and Connie Navarro
  • investment options for your future, with Dallas Davison
  • how to run a family meeting, with Allan Parker.

Sonia Chalk, who has extensive experience working with families through her role as an accountant with PVW Partners, said “It was great to see multiple generations coming together to learn how to go on this very important journey together, to get the best outcomes for not only their businesses, most importantly their families.”


The Bolton and Sharpe families from Gadara Station with Allan Parker


The consistent theme throughout the day and across all topics, was the earlier you start having the conversation (whether it be on business structures, capital gains tax, or family values) the easier the whole process becomes. Successful succession, like most good things in life, takes work to get there and is best thought of as a process, not an event.  As Allan said, this starts when the next baby is born and the more frequently and more often younger people are exposed to positive business conversations, the easy it is to have the harder ones.


Participants in the Family Business Matters workshop
Q&A Panel with Bec Clapperton (DAF), Dallas Davison (Money Over 50), Sonia Chalk (PVW Partners), Connie Navarro (Connie Navarro Legal)


This event was funded through the GRASS program DAF Reef Grazing Extension Services. The GRASS Program is funded through the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program and is delivered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Burnett Mary Regional Group, Fitzroy Basin Association and NQ Dry Tropics. The Reef Grazing Extension Services is funded through the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program and delivered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF).


DAF and NQ Dry Tropics staff with the guest presenters of the Family Business Matters workshop, Townsville, November 2022