Keeping it in the family…or not?

Do you need help fixing conflict in your family business?

Two of the more common adages that you hear in day-to-day life are: “you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family” and “don’t ever go into business with your family”. Both sound remarkably sane and balanced, however is the second one really true?

In my case it would seem so. My mum and my middle sister were and are excellent teachers, but I could not do that. My eldest sister is a play write and novelist, but I cannot do that. And my dad was a builder. Well, I am afraid that skill definitely skipped a generation.

Should you go into business with your family?

So that’s that then. Don’t go into business with your family.

Why? Because the experts say at some point, you’ll be with them at a barbecue, a family wedding etc and another family member will question your commitment. They won’t be able to help themselves because they work much harder than you do. You know that because they always tell you that they do. They’ll complain that you spend too much time with your family and not enough time working. You may even get the classic, “this is an equal partnership you know!”

And then there is the sibling rivalry challenge. That will come up when the pressure is on, and the company is not performing, and it is yet another stick to beat you with. “Mum and dad always gave you an easy ride: I had to WORK hard for what I have in life. I deserve more”.

Top 10 tips to reduce conflict in your family business

Well, I believe that you can work with your family, just take simple steps:

  1. Outline you long terms goals in writing at the very start of the journey. Update them every six months.
  2. Note down what you believe your role is going to entail and the responsibilities it comes with. State how much you want to earn and how often it is reviewed.
  3. Make sure you have the necessary shareholder agreement in place.
  4. Make a record of what you expect of your other family members are going to bring to the business too.
  5. Get everything in writing; proper, grown-up legal writing, not the back of a lottery ticket. Have them signed, dated and available to be viewed when necessary.
  6. Communicate
  7. Communicate
  8. Communicate…all the time.
  9. Communicate with all the other family members often and in a fair and balanced way. Maybe even with some mediation.
  10. Did I mention communicate?

There you go; The 10 steps to successfully running a business with family members. I mean, how hard can it be.

If it’s harder than you’d like it to be, or you need help resolving conflict in your family business, please contact the Equanimity Team for a free initial consultation.