Today, around 90% of family-owned and operated businesses don’t make it to a third generation, a staggering difference that has occurred specifically in the last 50-100 years. Not all family businesses are destined to fail, but there are certain personal and professional guidelines that must be adhered to in order to work, play and enjoy all aspects of family life within the business and outside the business.
How do you maintain a balance between work and family within the workplace? Is it possible to have a thriving business AND a thriving family dynamic? Of course it is. We are here to let you know what the pros and cons are before getting into a family business and yield logical, practical advice about how to balance family personalities, responsibilities and how to continue to make positive, impactful and financially responsible decisions for your family-run business.
Let’s start with some of the pros.
As you can guess, working with family can be intensely rewarding. When business is good, the family is good. Creating a positive work environment that produces financial rewards year after year will strengthen family bonds and allow for investment back into the family for vacations, homes and keeping a legacy intact.
Additionally, small towns are more likely to hire a business that is run by a local family they trust. If your portable restroom rental company sponsors a little league team or commits a financial contribution to a relief program or community service, you will stand out in your neighborhood or region as a company that stands up for what they believe in and empowers their peers in the process.
Most people trust their family members! You know what their intentions are. You can easily pry them out of a funk, hold them more accountable for doing a good job in the workplace and rely on them easier than a stranger.
Sounds great, right? Working with family when business is good and the family is strong can be incredibly rewarding!
Any business experiences bumps and faces hurdles in the startup phase. It is important to remember that you ARE working with family and you also ARE working. With the good also comes the not so good, so be prepared for both!
One industry-specific con is that the work can be really tough for families! The hours are long, weekends are often booked and the work can get dirty. Vacations are limited because of this, and there can be animosity between family members if someone believes they are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to time off.
Secondly, arguments and disagreements can quickly escalate and become emotional and difficult to squash. When this comes up (and it will) a great tactic is remembering how to clearly outline the work expectations and treat any disagreements as you would if you were in a business setting and not family members. Sit down in an office, hash out the issues without making it personal and be very clear about the business plan you outlined before the business took off.
Conflict can also arise when and if the business is experiencing financial instability or it is time to divvy up the business before retirement. It is a good idea to sit down the family beforehand and go over legal obligations, plans and paperwork talking about what will happen if/when X, Y and Z occur.
Establish a business plan with individual responsibilities, clear boundaries and expectations for each and every team/family member. There should be no favoritism, no exceptions and very little wiggle room if a conflict arises.
Talk about your business and financial goals openly and honestly. Don’t leave any voices out and include the family, team members and investors in the conversation, too.
Lastly, have realistic expectations for your family business. Life won’t always be peachy, but at the end of the day, if you want a family business to succeed remember it is all about attitude. Leave work at work and treat your home as a positive, relaxing space for you to discuss other topics.