Running a family business can be a rewarding and enriching experience that puts a legacy into place to secure a stable financial future for the generations to come.
However, it can also be tricky to navigate and manage different personalities who might see you as a family member instead of a boss or co-worker which can give rise to a number of issues in the workplace.
Whether you are at the helm of a small start-up or following in the footsteps of the prior generation at a family run corporate, here are seven tips that could help you to successfully run a family business.
1. Keep lines of communication open
Communication is key. This rings true for any business scenario but is especially important in a family run business where hierarchy and role expectations may differ between the workplace and home.
Discuss your expectations of each other in the workplace and make sure that a clear job description is put in place to avoid any grey areas or breakdown in communication which could lead to conflict.
Listen to everyone’s business ideas and give your family members the rooms to air their opinions as you would with any employee.
2. Separate work and family life
It is advisable to keep boundaries between what goes on at home and what happens in the office. As family members, you may live together as well as work together, and separating the personal from the professional will go a long way in maintaining healthy relationships with each other.
3. Let a professional manage the money
Money can be a contentious issue especially when everyone has an opinion of how it should be used. Make sure that you employ the services of a professional who can manage your family business accounting needs and give you sound monetary advice that will ensure your financial prosperity.
4. Hire people suited to the role
Even if this means hiring someone external over a family member as you will benefit from the unbiased input that an outsider can provide in many areas of the business.
Send your family member out to gain experience by working in another business before joining yours. Hiring people who are qualified to handle a position is the best thing you can do to ensure your business’s health.
Hiring a family member to fulfil a position because they are currently out of work, or feel they could give the role a try because it is what is available could result in that person becoming unhappy or disinterested. If they are not suitably qualified to handle the position the business could suffer as a result.
5. Promote according to merit
When it comes to promotions, employees should be rewarded for outstanding performance in the workplace. Give out promotions where they are due and not because you feel obligated to do so because a family member has not made any recent advances in the business.
6. Establish a succession plan
The main benefit of running a family business is to share the wealth with your loved ones and ultimately see to their long-term financial well-being.
From an early point discuss how you are collectively going to take the business forward and share your visions of succession with each other to agree on a suitable candidate to take the reins. You do not want to discover years down the line that the person you have been grooming all along for succession has alternate ideas and does not share your vision.
7. Keep evolving and embrace change
In today’s fast-paced world of rapid technological advancements and constantly evolving human processes you can keep your family business alive by adapting to the times.
Be sure to assess your vision of the future on a regular basis and make sure that it will accommodate any potential advancement. By the time that the younger members of the family take the helm, the business could possibly have taken on new dimensions in order to adapt and promote long-term innovation and sustainability.
Though it is impossible to accurately predict the business environment in a few years’ time, instilling a culture that embraces change and welcomes dynamic thinking in your employees, related or not, will prepare them for the challenges they may face in the future when they are in the position of running the family business.
A lifelong interest in writing and travel combined with a desire to better understand the human experience led Megan to pursue a BA in English and Anthropology. You can find her putting words into practice on all things travel related.