Starting a Family Business? Here Is How to Avoid Killing Each Other


Finding a reliable business partner is a difficult process. For many people, this is an obstacle they cannot overcome. They either give up on the idea of opening a business, or they settle for someone who is not reliable, thinking that everything will “fit in” after some time has passed. Well, in most cases, it doesn’t, and businesses fail to stay afloat because the collaboration between partners is bad.

Furthermore, it is important that everything works from the very start, so that you can get through the startup period. This is why a lot of people turn to family members and start a family businesses, as they know these people and can trust them. If this is your case, or you simply decided to open a family business for any other reason, then there are a few things that you must know. Even though you can trust and rely on your family members, running a business together is still different and there are different types of challenges you must go through.

Bear in mind that a family business is still a business. You will have to work hard and market your business, prioritize and organize all other important business aspects in order to succeed.

Choose a Leader

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At the very beginning of your business efforts, you must sit down and vote for the leader of your organization. A lot of people think something like “we are all family and we can all talk things through and reach an agreement.” They are wrong.

A business organization that is ran by a group of relatives can have meetings that result in disagreements that might paralyze your whole business strategy. When you choose a leader straight away and give him or her the power to make the final decision, this will ensure that your company avoids negative arguments and a toxic environment in which people get on each other’s nerves. It is good to create a board of members who can determine the president from the previously appointed candidates that have the needed knowledge, professional business tools and skills for that position.

You Can’t Fire Relatives

Why not, you ask? Well, you can do it, but it won’t end well at all. Your closeness and the fact that you are all connected is actually a bad thing in this case.

There are no foolproof actions you can take to avoid these risks, however, there are ways you can reduce the chances of someone slacking so much that they need to be laid off. The first thing you should do is to make it clear to everyone that this is business, and that everyone is expected to perform at a certain level. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to create a company culture in which everyone can talk freely about work and express their concerns. A good reporting mechanism can help you identify problems objectively and quickly.

Last but not least, go into business with people in your family who are mature enough to realize when they are setting the whole company back (this applies to you as well), and that they can react by improving themselves or leave on their own, without any hard feelings.

Create a Constructive Work Environment

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Like I’ve said before, healthy criticism between people who are related to each other is much harder than between typical coworkers. This is because you all know each other very well in your private lives. Everybody knows your weak spots, achievements, failures, etc. You must leave all of these things behind when talking business and create an environment that cherishes objectiveness.

Some ground rules must be set, and arguments must not come down to blaming each other or pulling out things from your private lives. If you go down this road, the chances of coming back will be quite slim. To improve your business, it is highly important that you nurture constructive criticism. Work on this from the start, as family members working together need extra time to get into this frame of mind.

These are the most important things you should look after when starting up a family business. Once you get past these obstacles, it’s on you to make important business moves, to grow towards success. Family businesses have one of the biggest success rates, especially in the U.S.

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