Family-owned businesses are not for the faint of heart. As with any relationship, there are bound to be problems. The difference between the families who are able to successfully run a family business and those who fail, is usually the ability to talk to each other. Communication is the key to success in any relationship, especially when you’re mixing business and family.
Mixing Business Life with Home Life
When most people go to work or their business, they’re able to leave their home life at the front door. In a family-owned business, your home life comes to work with you. Disputes that start at home can easily find their way into the office, causing tension between family members as well as employees.
When you decide to start a family-owned business, your current relationship with your family members should be your first consideration. If you can’t resolve problems with each other in your personal life, things will not be any better when you’re working together. Family businesses have caused the breakdown of many family relationships and the break up of many marriages.
To keep your business and home life from ruining each other you need to be proactive. Make sure you talk out problems with family members as soon as they arise. Have a weekly meeting to make sure this is done. Maintaining a healthy family relationship can really benefit your family-owned business in the long run.
Business Roles vs. Family Roles
In a family, there are certain leadership roles. Mainly the parents and the older siblings are in control. In a family-owned business these roles may be switched. This can make it difficult for family members to work together.
This can also be an issue if the family roles are maintained. Some children may feel suffocated by constantly being under the thumb of their parents. This is what leads many children to leave a family business and go onto other careers or business venture.
While a person may have a certain role in the family, that role does not transfer to the business. Parents need to stop treating their children like children and children can’t act like children, when they are working together. This may take time, but each person needs to make an effort to change their patterns of behavior towards each other. Your family business relationship needs to be based on mutual respect.
Goals and Plans for the Business’ Future
The person who started the business obviously has an idea of where they want the business to go. This is usually written into their business plan, vision statement and mission statement. As a family-owned business, these ideas may have been decided by all of the family members.
Problems occur when plans change. No one can predict the future and when changes need to be made, finding a consensus among family members may be difficult. Since changes to the business can affect all of the family including future family members, these decisions are important and need to be made. This includes things like succession plans and changes to company leadership.
While you would want everyone to agree to decisions being made about your business’ future, it’s not always possible. To resolve these types of disputes a vote needs to be taken and decisions made, even if not everyone is in agreement.
Figuring Out the Money
Money can cause problems in any relationship. When it comes to a family business it may be amplified because one family member may be getting paid more than another. There can be many reasons for disparity in pay, one may be doing more work or it may be favoritism.
To ensure that there are no disputes about money, everyone needs to know where they stand. The easiest way to do this is to treat family members the same as any employee. If they are the same as everyone else working at their position, there can be no calling foul when another family member makes more.
Raises and promotions based on merit will ensure that the best person gets the job regardless of who they are. This will not only make the company stronger, it will help mold the family members in to better owners of their company.
To have a family-owned business you need to be prepared for disputes, it’s only natural. Being able to talk things out, work out problems and come up with a solution is what will keep your family-business thriving and surviving into the future.