Category:Success In Business Management Family Business Entrepreneur Business Management Business Coaching Business General
The most significant challenges with running a family business arise due to the relationships within families. With a regular job, you can leave work at the office with no worries about bringing the job home. However, when your co-workers live under the same roof, or are related to you, work and family issues can become intertwined. Your childhood relationships with siblings, parental interactions, self-image, generational thought processes all affect relationships in a family business.
Some of these challenges include:
- Boundaries: At some point in a person’s career, we almost always bring some level of work home with us. However, in the family business, work and home become blended. Work is done at home and personal issues are often addressed at work. The challenge family businesses sometimes find themselves in is a potential total absence of boundaries. The blur becomes contentious, depriving family members of a place of solitude and escape. In the end, the family always suffers.
- Illness/Contingency Plans: In the journey of life, situations occur that impact our ability to focus on life, let alone business. Emily, her parents, three brothers, three cousins and two uncles and aunts all worked in a manufacturing business. They had about 10 additional non-family employees as well, however the greatest responsibility for running the business fell on the shoulders of the family. Then disaster struck: Mom was diagnosed with cancer. She was the lifeblood and bond for the whole family for all these years. The cancer took its toll on Mom and everyone else in the family. They no longer cared about delivering orders, servicing customers, selling product or growing the business. They wanted to be at her side during the last weeks and months prior to her death. That is exactly where they needed to be, but the business could not run without the family. No plan had been put in place to allow for the entire family to essentially be unavailable for weeks at a time. Orders weren’t being filled, deposits weren’t being made, and materials weren’t being ordered.
- Marrying into the business: Your spouse’s family business has been around for years and your skill set matches specific needs within the family business. Now for the challenge. You are part of the family, yet you are still the in-law. Should disputes arise (ok, when they do), too often you are left standing on the wrong side of the family tree. No matter how much your spouse understands your opinion, there is always the question of support.
This uniqueness also creates advantages and opportunities. Family name/reputation can carry a great deal of clout in the community – especially if the business has been around for a long time. The lasting legacy that it creates, presents opportunities for even those not in the daily operation of the family business. Truth be told, it is hard to be fired from the family business, so general job security is much stronger. The sense of belonging and strength of relationships can create a vitality that carries through many an economic, personal or business storm.
There are lots of challenging issues when working in the family business such as divorce, health challenges, financial stability just to name a few. Rather than ignore the possibilities of such things happening, it’s best to create a scenario and then a contingency plan should something arise. Protect your business, but don’t forget to protect the family as well.