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Working with Family in Business

By Todd Liles September 20, 2019 Working with Family in Business

In this week’s podcast, Chris Elmore & James Walker give their perspectives on working with family in business. Having seen and worked with well over 1,000 businesses combined in their respective careers, they share their tips on how to make working with family the blessing it should be.

Owning a successful business is a blessing. It gives you the freedom to help others achieve their dreams. When you can successfully work with family in a successful business, the blessing can be multiplied. But Working with family can be a challenge if things aren’t understood up front.

Also, you mustn’t fall for the myths of working with your family members, especially if you’re the owner or one of the owners. Chris and James talk about the 5 biggest myths that they’ve seen owners believe.

Here’s the 5 Myths of Working with Family in Business.

1) Family cares as much as the owner

This obviously isn’t always the case. Most think it should be, but the reality is that each family member is still their own person. Family members should make sure to communicate their “whys” and determine if they fit the business vision. If not, there will be different levels of engagement and care about the business.

2) Family works cheaper

This myth sometimes looks true on paper. You may hire a family member at a lower rate than someone else, but you almost always pay for it in opportunity cost or in emotional cost. You should always pay for the position the family member is in and not for the person or relationship.

3) Family won’t mind working harder

This goes together with the previous myth. Sometimes, you may think it’s okay to ask more, or maybe even expect more, from a family member. This is also untrue. You should expect the same from them as any other qualified person in the position and hold them accountable.

4) Family has less drama

Some of you laughed out loud just now! Again, we’ve seen many businesses that think family members won’t bring family matters to work. This comes from another myth: it’s not personal, it’s business. With family, it’s always personal. How can it not be personal? Make sure to set aside time to discuss and deal with family matters away from the office so they don’t “spill over” at work.

5) Family is always capable

This myth is usually believed by companies that started from scratch. In the early days, the bookkeeping and call taking were simple. It was easy to get a niece or nephew to do it. Or even a cousin that did the bookkeeping at the factory. But as the business grew, the need outgrew the relative’s ability to perform the job. Don’t be afraid to make the changes to help your business get better when it comes to personnel.

Working with your family in business is a blessing but only if you set expectations up front. Don’t continue to believe these myths. In the end, if you set expectations up front and don’t continue to fall for the myths – in spite of the emotion –  your business, and your relationship with your family will be much better.

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