In the ever changing world of business, working with family can be both a blessing and a challenge. As the leader of a family business myself, I’ve experienced firsthand the highs and lows of this unique dynamic. From sibling CFOs to in-law employees, we have it all, and while it can be chaotic, there’s beauty in the unity that comes with working side by side with loved ones.
The Beauty of Family Business
One of the most remarkable aspects of a family business is how it can bring a family together. My father laid the foundation for our organization, and now my siblings and I get to carry on his legacy. When my father passed away, it was a challenging time, but our family rallied together, working as a team to keep the businesses thriving and growing. Success in a family business is collective, and witnessing my family members succeed is a source of immense pride and joy.
The honesty and transparency that comes with family relationships fosters seamless communication within the business. We can be honest and raw with each other, which helps us overcome obstacles and steer the company towards our shared goals. We celebrate each other’s successes, and when one of us faces a setback, the rest of us rally to support and uplift them. The bond shared in a family business truly is one-of-a-kind.
Family Trauma & Drama
That being said, it’s not always smooth sailing. Dealing with past drama and history can be one of the toughest challenges. Old grievances can resurface and create tension during important business discussions. However, understanding each other’s personalities and communication styles is crucial. For instance, my sister tends to approach things negatively at first, but with time and conversation, we find common ground. Knowing each other as well as we do allows us to work through conflicts effectively.
Delivering Bad News
Painful exits and difficult decisions are inevitable in any business, but they become particularly sensitive when it involves family or friends. Letting go of a family or friends from the business is far from easy and can lead to awkwardness during family gatherings. However, it’s essential to remember that business decisions should be kept separate from personal emotions. Mutual respect and understanding are vital to maintaining strong family bonds during hard times.
Building Trust and Defining Roles
Balancing trust and defining roles can be tricky when working with family. Some family members may feel entitled to more responsibilities, even if they’re not ready for them. It’s essential to establish clear boundaries and maintain a work-life balance. At family gatherings, I make a conscious effort to switch from boss mode to sister mode, allowing us all to enjoy time together without work-related stresses.
Preparing for the Future and Passing the Torch
As we look towards the future – passing the torch to the next generation is a significant milestone for family businesses. Sadly, statistics show that only a fraction of family-owned businesses successfully make it to the third generation. To ensure continuity, family businesses need to plan for the long term and actively groom the next leaders. Passing on our legacy to my niece or children is a dream I cherish, and it’s essential to instill a sense of purpose in the younger generation.
Whether it’s female entrepreneurs making strides in the business world or family businesses thriving across generations, the commitment and dedication of families in business is inspiring. Embracing the beauty and challenges of working with family, while finding a balance between familial ties and professional roles, can lead to a beautiful and successful family business that stands the test of time.
Have you ever been part of a family business? What was your experience? I want to know! Remember, youth is your power.