All in the Family

There are both pros and cons to involving family in your business, so be sure to weigh these key considerations before bringing your loved ones into the fold.

To a business owner, a company is a labour of love. An immense amount of time, effort and resources are poured into it, in hopes that it will grow big, strong and healthy. This is a journey of a lifetime and it’s no wonder that some people want to share it with their family.

There are many notable family businesses that have withstood the test of time and grown into major business powers. LEGO Group, for example, was founded in Denmark in 1932 and is currently helmed by a fourth-generation family member. Over in the USA, SC Johnson is now at its fifth generation of family leaders after being founded in 1886. These brands and others, like French luxury house Hermes, are inspiring success stories but the family business route is filled with its own challenges.

The pros of a family business

  • Working together towards a common goal strengthens family bonds
  • Family values can be translated into corporate values to create a strong culture
  • Family businesses tend to take a longer-term perspective in building for future generations

The cons of a family business

  • The lines between family and business are blurred such that work conflicts can intrude into family time while family conflicts can be brought to work
  • It may be harder to make decisions and enforce rules if too many family members are involved
  • Non-family employees may feel side-lined or limited by the presence of family members

There are of course many ways of getting it right. Here are our top three tips:

1. Have a clear management structure in place

When your company is small, the need to clearly set out a management structure may seem less important than driving sales, for example. But a company relies on its leaders to make decisions and confusion at the top is the last thing you want. Laying this foundation will also better position your company to scale up at later stages.

2. Insist on the right skillsets for the right job, even among family

A common downfall of family businesses is assigning job roles based on birth right rather than skills or expertise. Resist the urge to forcefully fill every director-level role with kin. There are benefits to learning the ropes from the ground up. Allow younger family members, for example, to grow into senior positions.

3. Assign roles and responsibilities, and align expectations

Family is family but work is work. Drawing that line is a good way of sending the message to family members that they are expected to deliver on their KPIs like everyone else. Do family members have certain privileges over non-family employees? Clear the air from the get-go so everyone knows what is expected of them.

As a #lifepreneur, you know that you should never put business before family but what about combining the two? A successful family business is a legacy like no other, even though the journey is always not a bed of roses. Weigh the pros and cons, and get all the tips you need with #RHBLifepreneur.

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