Keeping Business in the family

Running A Business With Family Members

The word “entrepreneur” conjures up in many people’s minds an image of an individual who makes money for themselves with little concern for anyone, nor anything beyond their own bottom line. This is as unfair as saying that the only reason anyone takes on a job is doing so for selfish reasons. The truth is that entrepreneurship is a way of making a living just as surely as digging a ditch or manning the phones in an office. And entrepreneurship is not all about looking out for Number One, either. With a bit of co-ordination and collaboration, close family ties can make for a strong business profile.

Just think of all the people who have gone into business as a partner in a company and have come unstuck later on when their business partner turned out either to be unscrupulous or incompetent. In such cases, unless you have everything in writing and a great deal of resourcefulness, you can lose everything. By going into business as a family, or part of a family, you can avoid this step naturally. Thinking about it logically, how hard do you think it would be to hide an unscrupulous nature from someone who you see all the time?

No-one knows you better than someone with whom you have grown up – and vice versa. You know their strengths, weaknesses and their instincts and they know yours. When dividing up duties in an organization, it can often be confusing and challenging to assign the correct duty to the correct person. The solution? Well, by knowing each other so well you can instinctively spot who will do which task best – removing the early teething troubles that come from figuring all of that out. And if there is a task that no-one is especially suited for, the close collaboration that has characterized your life as a family makes it easier to deal with it as a team.

All of this ties in fairly neatly with another major benefit to working together as a family – the profit margin. Self interest is a perfectly healthy motivating factor in trying to do the best that you can in business. It is all the more likely that you will keep your eye on the ball if that self interest is tied in with wanting to do the best for your family. Although nothing is a guaranteed success without planning, motivation and a great deal of good luck, the conditions that make success more likely are ones that are nurtured as a rule within families.

There is a line of thought that says you should not go into business with a family member because when things go wrong you will have all the more reason to be unhappy, and there can be an increase in tension. It is true that without sound business sense on the part of everyone, a business could well go downhill very quickly. For this reason, family businesses will not always work and it is not a perfect fit for everyone. Nothing is guaranteed. But by approaching the tasks and the tests that business will throw your way as a team, you give yourself a better chance of achieving them. Something which family ties will help enormously with.

First Published: Apr 24, 2009