Creatively Manage A Family Business

All businesses deal with daily challenges of running a business, but family business owners deal with unique challenges and if they are not addressed quickly it will drastically affect the success and continuity. The stakes are high with relationships and assets at great risk if they are not managed.

The family is an emotional system that can bind the business, but

can often disrupt sound business decisions and create division.  Families live in the past, present and future. In the family’s emotional system the past is always present with disappointments, loyalty, and old hurts lasting a long time.

Let’s look at the family emotional system and how it can creatively be managed.

1. Keep open and clear lines of communication — Good communication is key to any business, but in a family business it is crucial for your success.  Before hiring or starting a business with a family member discuss individual roles and responsibilities, clearly define expectations and make sure everyone is in agreement before you move forward.

2. Be logical, not emotional  — When dealing with family it can be difficult to be objective.  Feelings are hurt easily and it’s a common reaction to become defensive rather than look at the issue logically.  Before you make a decision or comment, ask yourself “how would I handle this situation?” and ask this question of yourself every time you need to make a decision regarding a family conflict.  The goal is to train your mind to be more logical when dealing with emotional situations – be proactive – not reactive.

3. Reward competence, not genetics — a good business owner will reward employees based on performance and family members should be held to the same standard.  If the family member is not qualified to be the VP, hire someone who is.

4. Be fair, not biased — Leave all family feuds at home.  If you have a conflict between family members at work, encourage them to work it out, outside of the office.  In some instances you may need to discipline them or ask them to leave for the day.  Under NO circumstances do you engage in the conflict.  Taking sides makes you a part of the conflict. To be effective you need to be fair and rational when running your business

5.  Married Couples In Business Together Should Take Time For Each Other Outside The Office — All work and no play will drive your business and your relationships into the red.  Be sure to nurture your business, but equally important is to nurture your family relationships as well.  Go to dinner together once a week, take a weekend getaway from your home and office, plan a family vacation each year.  Regardless of what you do, have fun and don’t discuss the business – take time for yourself and your family – ultimately this will be better for the business and the family.