Small Business Advice

Do you have family in your business?

By July 7, 2009December 29th, 2015No Comments

My friend Lorraine Ball, founder of the marketing firm Roundpeg wrote an interesting blog post this morning that got me thinking.  It’s about having just hired her daughter to work in her company, wondering if they could make it work?

Lorraine asked for thoughts from other business owners about their experiences.  I have not hired any of my children except for short stints in the summer.  I did hire a nephew in a full-time position, and we did not manage that well.  However, in my Women Presidents’ Organization group are two women who have adult sons in their employ at very high levels, and others who have family members in their business.

Since hiring and overseeing family members is a common thread in our WPO discussions, I’ve learned how they are making these business relationships work.  And I thought perhaps many of you are dealing with family members who are partners or employees.

Here are some ground rules that seem to be effective:

  1. Clearly defined responsibilities and outcomes-based performance expectations, in writing, and agreed upon in advance.
  2. Agreement on the time line of deliverables and the consequences of failure to meet performance expectations.
  3. Separate business conversations from family conversations.  For example, during the business day, all conversations are about business.  Family conversations are for after-hours.
  4. Never talk to other family members about business issues until you have first discussed with each other.  No surprises!
  5. Frequent, scheduled review of how things are working.
  6. Identification of an agreed-upon mediator that either can call if an issue can’t be resolved.

Small businesses often start as family-owned businesses.  Many of The Whale Hunters’ clients are owners of family-operated businesses that have many non-family members as leaders and employees.  One company is now in its third generation!

Business women and business men alike may find themselves thinking of hiring family members, or perhaps you have done so and been disappointed.

I invite you to contribute your ideas by making a comment, and I will share your thoughts with Lorraine.