Some of the most successful businesses in the world are run by families. Starting a family business can provide many unique advantages. It can even bring a family closer together. It can also create unexpected complexities that could harm family relationships. Several tips will help to keep a family business running professionally.
Make the Rules Known and Hold Everyone Accountable
The first thing to do is make sure favoritism and family dynamics do not play a role in the business. This means creating written rules of conduct that everyone must follow. Each job description should be spelled out clearly. There will be challenges, but every family member needs to be held accountable for any infractions from arriving late to inappropriate behavior. If you run a business where clients and customers are involved, they will quickly catch on to any unprofessional family dynamics and be turned off by it. Stay professional and make sure your family drama stays out of the workplace.
Get Everything in Writing
Anything and everything dealing with the business needs to be put into writing. This includes how money is divided, who owns the business and the official positions of each person in the family. Any changes that occur need to be documented. Everyone should sign important documents so that disputes can be resolved by contract law and not through a family feud.
Separate Home and Business at All Times
Business affairs and home affairs should be separate at all times. This means keeping personal affairs out of the workplace. It also helps to keep business affairs limited while at home. Allowing business and personal lives to mix could blur the lines so that family members begin to break rules or disregard best practices in the workplace. Keep business negotiations in the office rather than around the family dinner table.
Make Sure Family Members Are Qualified
Although it is a family business, not all family members will make good employees. It is important to make sure family members are qualified before they are included in the business. Including people in the business just because they are related can cause problems with other employees and set a bad precedent. An unqualified person could also cost the business money in mistakes and errors. Family members should at least receive some training before being put into a position.
Create a Clear Management Hierarchy
A final tip is to create a clear management and succession hierarchy. This should be based on employee value and real business factors and not on age or family relationships. There should be a list of succession in case family members leave. According to Alex F. Bouri, who has extensive experience running a family business, it’s important to realize you are relinquishing control and that there will be changes when someone new takes over the business. This will prevent fighting and destructive arguing that could tear the business apart later.
Running a successful business with family members requires good communication and a disciplined attitude. The business or a job at the business should never been seen as something anyone in the family is entitled to have. Good documentation, accountability and clear rules will all keep a family business running professionally.