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What to Consider When Mixing Family with Business
Published on Apr 10, 2013
Read our article, 'What to Consider When Mixing Family with Business' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
Starting a business with family can be a fantastic endeavor or an utter disaster. It makes sense to look toward people you know, love and trust when you want to take on a business partner or an employee, and working with family can be extremely rewarding both financially and personally. However, it can also go terribly wrong – just take a look at these famous family business feuds. Although it’s not always the case, family businesses have the potential to be a hotbed of stress and can damage a business or even tear apart a close, personal relationship.
So the question remains, should you do it? The only way to find out if you’ll be successful is to try, but here are a few things to consider before mixing family with business.
Ask Yourself the Right Questions
As a general rule, you shouldn’t rush into any hiring decision, but this becomes more important when considering a family member. Incorporating a business comes with a lot of responsibility, so it’s important to first ask yourself - is your family member really the best person for the job? Or are you just looking to help them out in a time of need? Sit down together and make a clear list of expectations from both parties. By communicating openly from the beginning, one of you may realize that the situation is not ideal, and you can prevent a lot of unnecessary strife down the line. Additionally, be sure to consider the implications of firing your family member eventually. Should such a situation arise, are you able to keep business matters and personal matters separate?
Kids, Keep it Professional
Chances are you know your family member quite well. You may even have grown up together. Having a close relationship and knowing someone’s personality well may be beneficial in that you understand your individual strengths and weaknesses. However, knowing too much can also cause conflict. Specifically, it’s likely that you know how to push each other’s buttons and elicit negative reactions. When at work, engage professionally and treat your family member as you would any other employee you don’t know personally.
Avoid Special Treatment
Remember when you were a kid and your baseball coach’s son always got to pitch even though he was lousy? Whatever you do, be careful not to give any special treatment to a relative that’s working for you. This means no unfair pay, no extra time off and no lowered expectations when it comes to performance. Already, your family member might face some animosity, or at least wariness, from other employees. They are going to have to work twice as hard to prove to their co-workers that they’re serious about the position. Don’t make their job harder by favoring them. Of course, don’t make the opposite mistake and expect too much from them. You have to separate your familial feelings and expectations, as hard as that may be.
When it Works, It Really Works
These cautions may sound a little terrifying, but they shouldn’t dissuade you if you feel like working with a family member will be great for your business. Many, many relatives have worked together successfully. If the two of you share the same vision, complement one another’s work styles, and provide much-needed morale boosts, it can be extremely successful. Business is about risk, and though working with family does carry some additional risks, in many cases, the vast rewards are well worth it.