It can be difficult to work and live with the same people. Your family members are often the closest people to you in life. When working with them, it is often difficult to determine where to draw the lines. Sometimes it is difficult to separate work from personal life and even more so when your personal life is involved with your work.
The most important thing to do is set limits. Keep the conversation going about work at work and family life at home. If you mix the two, you can often create animosity both at home and in the office. If you’re going to have to discuss business matters, at least save it for the right time. Time should be set aside to specifically discuss business matters (and not over dinner). Having meetings to discuss business matters is very important, but the environment does matter.
If your children are joining a business that you have previously developed, it is important that they first have experience working outside of the family business. This way, they will know what to expect from a professional (and unrelated) work environment. It is also important not to hire children, or any other family member, out of sympathy. Although you may be “doing them a favor,” you still want to make sure they have the skill and experience to fulfill their role in the business. It would be even worse if you had to fire a family member for lack of skill, wouldn’t it?
Make sure responsibilities and duties are clearly assigned to each employee to avoid overlaps. Each person should have certain tasks that they are responsible for so that, at the end of the day, no one can play the blame game. Clearly identify the leaders as well as the particular strengths and weaknesses of all employees. While multiple family members may be qualified for similar tasks, dividing the tasks should help avoid conflict. Big decisions, of course, must be made together. However, a debate about every little move that is made will begin to tear the family apart.
Family businesses can be very successful if you manage them properly. For example, Matt Siegal helped his father, Sanford, expand his cookie business (Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet) into a retail operation. “I am an eternal optimist; I believe that each new idea will work very well,” says Matt. “Dad is more pessimistic or realistic, as he calls himself.”
When Matt saw great potential for his father’s small business to grow significantly by adding a retail division, he was immediately excited about the idea. “‘Of course, Dad had to weigh the options carefully and consider any potential pitfalls,’ says Matt, knowing his father would take a more cautious approach. In the end, after a bit of diligence, the elder Siegal agreed. Matt agreed. He sold his company software, joined his parents in the cookie business, and the company took off. ” Cookies are now sold at Walgreen’s and GNC, as well as through their website.
Family businesses can be a great idea and generate great profits. As long as everyone feels they are contributing and being treated equally and with respect, things should run smoothly. A successful family business creates a happy family!