Have you ever considered running a family business? Perhaps you’re enticed by the convenience of working with people you already know, or maybe you’re seeking to leave a family legacy for your children and theirs. While there are many benefits to working with family, it can also have its downsides. Although many families succeed in business, sometimes the stress of running a business can get in the way of family relationships and vice versa.
I have worked with dozens of family businesses over the years, and through TAB meetings I have noticed several pros and cons family business owners seem to experience. Here are a few pros and cons you may encounter if you decide to work with family:
- Kick-Start Your Succession Plan. Your business may be your pride and joy right now, but if you ever plan on retiring or starting another venture, you may need to consider eventually passing it along to someone else. Partnering with or hiring a family member can be a great way to show them the ropes so they can one day run the business.
- Gain a Valuable Marketing Angle. Consumers prefer purchasing from family businesses. Although this doesn’t mean you should partner with any family member for the sake of owing a family business, hiring a qualified sibling or child can improve your business’s image.
- Trust Who You’re Hiring. Hiring can be a convoluted process, and it can become discouraging if your business experiences a high turnover. By hiring a family member, you likely already have a strong sense of their work ethic and whether they’d be a good fit for your business and team.
- Taking Work Home With You. Many business owners I know are guilty of this, but you may find it difficult to keep business discussions within business hours. For the sake of continued positive family relationships you may not want business to be at the forefront of every family gathering.
- Concerned Employees. Unless your entire staff is family, some of your non-related employees may worry that they won’t be treated equally. I encourage you to communicate to your staff that all employees are held to the same standards, and are subject to the same policies and codes of conduct.
- Maintaining Professionalism. Regardless if you’re working with relatives, a certain level of professionalism should still be maintained in the workplace. Keep family gossip out of the office and treat each other no differently than you’d treat a normal co-worker.
If you truly believe that one of your family members would be a valuable asset to your team, I encourage you to hire them. If, on the other hand, you are considering working with family solely out of convenience or family pressure, I suggest standing firm on the decisions that are in the best interest of your business. There can be substantial benefits to partnering with or hiring a family member, but it takes a strong, communicative family to make it work.
To discuss the ups and downs of your family business with a TAB peer advisory board, contact me today!
Whether you have parents with a business, or know of family businesses, you may read the title of this blog and instinctively answer, “yes” in your head. Working alongside your father or mother sounds great! Employment at your fingertips, stability, and less pressure sounds ideal, but is it?
My experience with a number of family businesses has lead me to believe that it takes a very special parent-child relationship to achieve success. If you’re thinking of joining your parent’s business, there are some important questions to ask yourself before making a decision.
1. Do you have the right skill-set/education?
It is important to add value to the business, not just for obvious reasons, but also to feel like you truly have earned and deserve your spot. If your skill-set does not align with the business, the experience may be challenging – either because you’re not engaged (due to a lack of interest) or because you can’t grasp the work.
2. What relationship do you have with your parents?
Critically analyze the relationship you have with your parents. Will the level of respect that is necessary in a professional setting be met? If your relationship is tumultuous outside of work, chances are that will translate into the workplace.
3. What type of work environment are you looking for?
If you’re looking for camaraderie amongst coworkers and equal treatment, working in the family business may not be for you. As the child of the owner, the company employees automatically see you differently, and work can even become a lonely place.
4. What are your long-term goals?
Do you plan on staying with your family business forever? If so, do your parents plan on having you there forever? Your goals must be aligned with those of your family. If you plan on taking over the business, how long are you willing to wait? Your parent may not be ready to relinquish the business to you as soon as you think.
5. Will you have the autonomy you want?
Are you trusted enough to make decisions and have your voice heard in a family business? It is often easier for parents to undermine the opinions and ideas of a child rather than someone they have a professional relationship with. If you’re looking to have creative ownership and freedom, you must decide whether it exists for you in your family business.
Ultimately, it can be difficult to successfully integrate yourself into the family business. Whether you’re starting from the bottom and working your way up through the organization, or moving right into the corner office, you must understand the risks that come with mixing your professional and family lives.
Have you ever worked for a parent, or experienced second-hand a parent-child relationship in a business? Please share with me any experiences or input you have on this topic in the comments below.