Having read this article about an hour ago : 10 Questions to Ask before Family and Friends Become Business Partners it really gave me some food for thought after quite a challenging month concerning family matters within business.
Here’s the back story
My Mum and myself have always got on very well, and it was always our plan to go into business but we never knew when or what in. It’s only over the last year or so that we found our niche, and came up with a plan of action. We’re both opinionated, and strong willed so our discussions can result in a few debates shall we say.
For those of you who are in a family businesses already, I’m sure you’ll know how heated it can get at times when you’re living or constantly seeing a family member and then having to work with them too. It can kind of feel as though, you’re back to being 5 again when Dad or Mum saying no is the final word. Queue tantrum with teddy at side on the shop floor.
However like any partnership either in business or personal, it’s about : respect, honesty, understanding and of course the ability to separate your personal and professional roles. Sounds easy right? Hmm.
From reading the above article, I took 3 things away for food for thought:
What will each of our roles be?
According to a survey ” In a 2010 study of 518 family-owned businesses, the most successful ones had made each person’s role in the company clear upfront”. We did that from the start. My mum was the ideas lady and I was the creative implementor. What is interesting though, is the more we’ve worked with one another, the more we’ve taken on each others role. But not to point where we’re trying to do everything ourselves but to a point where we’re each able to contribute. Which I think’s very important. There’s a lot of emphasis put on finding a business partner whom has strengths where you’re weak and visa versa. I think it’s even more important to learn off one another so that you both have these strengths. As you never know when you will be required to step in the shoes of the other, should unforeseen circumstances happen.
I guess we all have capabilities that are ‘our thing’ and at times I’ve been a little envious that my business partner is becoming good at something that I do so well. However, when I look at it from a professional aspect, I know that our business in the long run will be the strong one.
How will we keep our personal and professional lives separate?
The answer to this one is to have set times away from work. But I find that our creative brains never seem to work at the same time. I’m either having a rest, and she’s flat-out working or the other way around. And I know, I’m a night mare to track down for a meeting! So we’ve had to compromise and look for more creative approaches when we want to talk business. We both often go for long hikes, and usually the amazing scenery inspires us so much we’ll have ideas which we’ll talk about but then we make it a definite yes when we go the gym and spa to just relax.
It is important in any relationship to have time away from one another. Sometimes just by doing something on your own or an unrelated activity that you can have great business ideas for your next meeting.
And my last thought wasn’t included in the article but it was :
How do I not take it personally when my partner supposedly gives constructive ‘feed back’?
The general rule of doing something great is to know when it’s not great and them improving on it. In general I do find it hard to take constructive feedback especially off family members. I guess I could say I take it to heart more. That goes back to what I said at the start about being able to separate personal and professional roles. Yes your Parents are meant to think the sun shines out of your ear – but your business partner is not, well not as much any way. Half of the business is theirs therefore whatever happens as a result of your actions concerns them too. It’s only right they give you their opinion – other wise you’d be a sole trader.
I do value my Mum’s feedback as she’s been here a lot longer than me, and has a lot to bring to the table. So I know that when I do get it right, it feels good when she says so. I think valuing people’s opinions is the best thing that you can do to grow stronger and develop your business skills.
With that said, I am so looking forward to work alongside my Mum, because I think she’s just great and that’s me speaking as her Daughter, and as her business partner!
I’m keen to hear from those of you that are in business with your family. what’s it like? What do you find satisfying about it? Would you change if you could?
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Thanks for stopping by!
C. L . Haden