How to Run a Family Business Without the Drama
Running a family business in with your spouse as your business partner or another family member means that there are struggles outside the boundaries of the typical business day. For all family businesses in North Carolina, here are some tips for leaving the family drama behind.
Write it Down:
Disagreements between family members can easily devolve into personality conflicts. Avoid confusion by putting things in writing, including job duties, compensation agreements, contracts of any kind, you name it. You’ll be surprised how fuzzy memories can get when things get contentious, so even if the plan seems crystal clear, don’t skip this step.
Avoid using sarcasm or being passive aggressive when you are upset or if you want something done. Learn to be clear and straightforward – and do it as calmly and kindly as possible.
Create an Atmosphere of Trust:
If you give a family member something to do or take charge of, let them do it. Resist the urge to micromanage or tell them the best way to get it done. Just as with non-family member employees, showing trust frees people to do their best thinking and take ownership of their work.
Create a Mission Statement:
Creating a mission statement will give everyone involved a clear goal and purpose. When difficulties arise, you’ll be able to weigh potential solutions against whether or not they’re in line with your common goals.
Have a Conflict Plan:
Decide how you’ll handle disagreements before they come up… because they will. Make sure there is a process in place and a clear chain of command for how decisions will be made when parties disagree. For the best possible outcomes when obstacles arise, learn conflict resolution techniques and how to de-escalate emotionally charged situations.
Working with family can be a challenging and rewarding experience, but if you can, try to include some outside voices in the mix. It helps to have one or more people who can give another perspective and balance out the group.
Have a Sense of Humor:
When (not if) things start to go sideways, keeping it light will not only make the process less painful, it will help you to stay focused on what’s important and make better decisions, too.
Keep Family Finances Separate:
Money can be an area of huge conflict in any small business partnership, whether it involves family or not. Vow to keep financial dealings transparent and above board by not mixing business and personal accounts or transactions.
Expect the Expected:
The good thing about working with people you know well is that you know what to expect both the good and the bad. Use this to your advantage by not expecting family members to behave differently than they always have, just because they’re in a business situation.
Put Family First:
Life’s too short to sacrifice your most important relationships in pursuit of your small-business goals. If a serious situation arises with a family member that affects the business, of course you should deal with it. But don’t use it as a reason to hold on to resentment or create further rifts in the family. When it comes to the family business, the health and well-being of the family should come first.