For some, the very idea of going into business with your family is enough to make you cringe. For others, it may feel as if they haven’t even a choice in the matter. But for families who are determined to run a family business together successfully and with enthusiasm, you’re already one step there.
Just because The Kardashians have created a lucrative family business from their internal drama doesn’t mean that the same can be applied to you. A little family friendly competition can be a good thing, but communication has to be key. And good communication is the secret to drama-free family businesses.
It may be that everyone has a different idea for the direction of the family business, based on different values. You want to clarify that everyone is on the same page; there needs to be an understanding when it comes to the key issues.
You also need to identify exactly how involved everyone wants to be, so that you can agree upon roles based on everyone’s preferred level of involvement. Not everyone wants to be a stakeholder in the company. Some family members may just be happy enough contributing every now and again when they’re needed —sweeping in the evening, occasionally answering the phone, or filling in when someone’s sick— without being on the front lines of the business.
It can be hard to separate business and personal affairs, but don’t get side tracked talking about irrelevant personal matters or family politics during business discussions. When you’re having a meeting, keep it professional and just stick to business. Don’t take sides based on personal alliances…
It’s quite common to bring in third-party expertise, especially when the family business is doing well and you’re looking to expand. You may find yourself needing to bring in an outsider for things like accounting, administration, assistance, management, and so on. This won’t make it any less a family business, and you shouldn’t be afraid of it. If you do take on an employee though, be aware that you will legally require employers’ liability insurance.
According to the Institute for Family Business (IFB), 88% of UK businesses are family owned, generating over a quarter of UK GDP. Family businesses range from father and son tradesmen to large family owned companies with non-family employees.
If you’ve been running the family business professionally and drama-free, the decision to hire new employees shouldn’t be as difficult as you’ll be thinking with your head and not with your heart. As with any business, it should feel as if you’re expanding the family and new employees should feel as such. As essential members of your work force, non-family employees should never feel unwelcome or as if they will always come second to family member employees.
It can be so easy to sour family relationships when you’re in business together, but it can also be so easy to develop even closer relationships with your family because of it. With some clear-thinking and determination, your family business could survive for generations.