Family business sounds very exciting. To work and live together, have the same working hours and free time might be a dream. For couple, siblings, parents or all family. It will work only when all participants understand the same vision, goals and results. Family business became more popular this last years, when workers loosing their jobs and family can help. BUT…
There is a few rules. When they are working and all members of the team are happy and doing the best, this is a perfect balance. In family business is involved not only relationships, emotions and hierarchy, but also knowledge, ability and responsibility. This has to be clear from the first moment to prevent disappointments and disagreements. When is your family members business, might be easier. When is in laws business, might be a bit different. This year a lots of family run businesses changed some of their external worker for family member in need. To make this decision is not easy, but happened. Jobs can be temporary – make agreement before, that for now you would like to participate and when situation will get better you will go your own way. Or can be also with open end from the both sides.
Responsibility and contracts:
In family business also need to be a structure. Usually on the top is a one person or couple. When is more than that, rules are the must. Rest of the team has specified positions and responsibilities. More of this ones will be made on internal SOP / standard operation procedure/, more easier work together will be. All participants need to have a definition of their role and responsibility. Contracts and money benefits is better written. Even if one wants only to help, make this clear. Help can be in any form, from washing the dishes, taking care of children to perform a marketing sale and advertisement. Nightmare becomes when all this is not on place, husband complain to wife that he did not get paid as expected, cannot operate his side project without being employed. Wife goes to brother who is in charge and family war is here.
Business First – Family follows :
In difficult time is family help a priority. Do not forget one thing – if you run a very high quality family business, selling the cookies, running the restaurant or making a graphic design, mind your business needs first. Cousin might need a work, but if business need a language skilled person and he can barely speak up, only you and your business is going to suffer. Also might happened that your worker or family member resign and you have in law with baby home, which can temporary help. Situations will be different, but rules applied. To all, equal. Do not take business disagreement home. Do not take it personally. Separate work from family, even sometimes is very thin border. To avoid a nightmare, explain to your sister that her son might need a job now, but before that he needs to learn a basic about the operation. You are running the restaurant and guy is a car mechanic.
Goals and company vision:
All members of the team need to know the goal, direction and vision. Often happened that a team member get a new idea, get a new customers or group interesting in product or business. Only the ones who are ready can go further. Conduct a short monthly meeting, give praising and benefits. Inform about the extra receiving for a good work,keep motivation. Responsibility is a must to divide. Always have 2 people in charge and learning in progress. Head of the business pass the information on back up person. No surprises here ever. Nightmare comes when family expecting to buy a new cars for them, but you really want to expand and make new division, where need to rent a new offices. Plans might change, but keep family informed. Like this family understand and will calm down. Benefits will be a bonus – some other time.
Rules of operation:
Working in a family business people expect to have more free time, more money and more freedom. This is fine, unless starting to have unexpected days off, hours off or breaks when not necessary. Family usually works more and expect less. Make it clear. Make notes, create personal files. This applies for all workers in business. Nightmare become when family started to misuse their position and doing unexpected things. Employees loosing motivation and respect.
Stability and growth offer:
Make your budgeting and keep the word. Family business is easier to control, to grow, to innovate. Invest and explain to your team why. Today saving will get tripled in a time. Pay regularly, help when is in your possibility. Plan ahead, keep backup. Offer and allow professional development. Keep education and new learning possible. Be flexible and listen. When nightmare start? When you get to financial troubles, income goes down, sale is decreasing and you thinking how to save the company, but family wants to sell everything and not care anymore.
Open to new opportunities:
This is a hardest part of family business. To be open and accept the changes. Family was always using newspaper to advertise and promote, but web site is really a need this days. Give a chance to technology and your sale will go up while you enjoying time with your family. No matter who came up with this idea. Important is that is working. Nightmare can be here very fast. Even grand pa who is a president of the company needs to keep up with new trends, not having excuses about the age or modern technology. This is a business.
Serious business talks and records:
As in every company here also a coaching take own big part. Senior is guiding the junior. Giving advice’s and recommendations. From family member is more easy to take it, even when the coach is your dad, brother, mother or sister. This is also a big success of the family, which is on going for generations. Here also need to be a rule, listen first, then talk without arguing. Opinions can be sometimes different, but facts are the facts. Nightmare can become when one side does not want to be coached, doing the same mistakes over and over and there is no record of loss. This can be easily avoided by keeping personal records and giving out tasks with time frame. Family chronicles and business diaries saved already no one company.
Maintain you free time:
Your team might live and work together, but each member has a different skills and priorities. Make sure to find the best of them to create a team. Family is always a team. And is only up to members how far they get. Also there is a need of personal space and time off. Do not get upset when your sister is planning vacation alone. Give yourself also a weekend at SPA to refresh your body and mind. Turn off your cell phone for a week and relax. Nightmare starting when you plan family vacation together without even asking. How you think this going to end up?
Separate work from family:
Family business is a community when power of the one makes stronger all. Principle is based on sharing and loyalty. Members are equal, but different. Each individual has different skills, together make one strong team. Rely on strength, difference, skills and healthy view. Learn to listen and express your opinions calm. When a family meeting or celebration is on, avoid business involved.When is a situation very hard to decide, ask help and opinion of non family member or friend from business. Nightmare starts with ego when you think that no help is needed. You might end up fighting about the small things, while big ones are missed.
Your kids want something else:
Let them do and study what they choose. Happened very often that children later on realize the benefits and opportunity of their family business. After doing a different jobs and getting new experiences, this might be a good base for family business future. New ways of management,new project or new idea will help to grow and build family brand. Happened already where father started a small family business, daughter developed it into a big national chain after years doing something else. Nightmare starts when you really want to keep them home and involved with business you love. You might loose them….is not worth. Let them go. At least you see them twice a year on your Birthday and Christmas.
When someone decide to leave:
For sure has an own reason. No matter if is a brother, son or father. Thanked for all was done, offer references and welcome back if necessary. Sometimes the person need only a change a will soon find out what had lost. Leave the door open, family is a family. Nightmares are all ultimate. Need you for a week more, month more, year more…really? Decision is made, continue your work and plan B. Like this you will keep all running well. Family and business.
When someone has to leave:
Sometimes comes also to this unpleasant situation. When you followed up all rules mentioned above, result is just the end of process. All evidences are there, documents are correct, rules were broken. Is not easy to do that, but again – business first. When this happen as a result of divorce, does not mean the one has to leave. If is willing to stay and participate, give a try. When this happen as a result of lack of performance, nothing to think about. Nightmare comes when brother does not understand that all this failure started a long time ago, helping hand was offered and still his daughter getting rid of last night party instead of presenting project to new client. Will be better for her also to find a job with afternoon shift.
Important is to pass the heritage and information to the next generation on time. When you follow the rules, always you have one person back up in case. Unexpected things happen to people. To prevent this is better than to regret it. This is a long time process, when is well prepared, no changes are felt in business while changing the top managers. Smoothest the changing and vision,smoothest operation follows. Nightmare is on place when no one knows, and one who knows is gone.
No one from family wants to continue the business as a owner, top manager, no agreements can be reach, lots of money is involved, time to sell just came. This case is sometimes the most difficult and sentimental heartbreaking. But…when someone else is interesting of buying your family business, willing to keep and develop the brand and name, you are lucky. Sometimes this is a start of new era and development. Some family members might continue under new management or take off as they wish. In the past was a lots of known cases when family business continues even with no family involved anymore.
Family business is opportunity, unity and stability. Is easier to control, communicate and develop.All have a chance and choice. To participate, to grow and get profit. Personal, financial, social. Family can easy develop managers and leaders by experience. Can prepare a back up plan in case something unexpected happen and plan ahead. Main strength rely on family members, workers – unit which is involved not only economically but also emotionally. This is a big advantage and asset. Family members as workers has a privilege to build something together. No matter if you running a small restaurant, shop or a huge factory. Need to have respect for values, life and business. To build a good name take years, to destroy it take a minutes. Have this in your mind. With honesty and open heart can make it through anything. Family is only one and cannot choose it. But can modified it. With opportunity, experience and understanding.