If you’ve just started working with relatives, I have to warn you: run! Run as fast as you can! You probably just made the biggest mistake of your life.
Remember your –not so- cuddly cousin James who taught you how to swim by throwing you into the pool that summer when you were six? I’ll bet you look back on that memory fondly. But are you sure you should be? If your cousin threw you into the pool when you couldn’t swim, it means you were in at risk of drowning, so why would you even think that was cute? That was just James being an asshole. And I’m willing to bet you that things haven’t changed all that much now that James is a grown up.
If you’ve decided to go into business with cousin James, things are about to turn ugly. James won’t think twice before throwing you into a pool of debt, and what’s worse Auntie Vi will stop baking you Christmas cookies as soon as she hears about your beef with James, and before long your family will either be siding with you or James.
You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Most family businesses go sour because we are meant to enjoy family get-togethers with family, not family start-ups.
However, if you’ve already gone into business with relatives, or if it can’t be helped, do not worry. The how to guide below will help you to effectively work with your relatives and before you know it, you’ll stop dreaming of banging cousin James’ head against the wall.
1. Establish Boundaries
When you start a business with a family member, you might realize, before long, that you’ve started a business with the entire family. Everyone’s likely to think they should have a say in how things are run, and everyone will want to help out as much as they can.
This line of thinking is clearly wrong; you don’t want your uncle John telling you how to use social media for the company’s benefit, that’s what CareerAddict is for. So, you should make sure that everyone knows that how you run your business is not up for discussion. To successfully do that limit work-related conversations when you are with family, and tell your business partner/relative to do the same.
2. Collaboration Is the Way Forward
One of the problems that many people face when they are in business with relatives is that they can’t slip out of their family member roles.
For example, if you are going to business with your younger brother, you might not be able to shake off the responsibility of being the older brother. However, in your business environment, you are not the older brother, you are a business partner of equal standing, which means that you should neither take more responsibility nor should you strangle the other person’s creativity or motivation.
It’s important to establish this sense of balance in the workplace because it’s only if you respect each other as professional individuals that the business can advance. Hear them out and make sure your ideas are heard out.
If you are the one feeling strangled, then you need to speak up. Don’t let your relative shush you; make sure that no opportunity goes lost and demand that they are discussed.
I’m sure you know by now that an effective way to do that is by constantly nagging the other person. I know it doesn’t sound very professional, but if you shout about it, I guarantee you that eventually they’ll hear you out. And if your idea’s any good and it brings in more profit, it’ll be that much easier next time round. Eventually, you will be a respected business partner whose ideas are always valued. But to achieve that you should never give up, it’s like when you wanted to play with the legos, and your brother/sister/cousin wouldn’t let you. Did you stop nagging them then? Didn’t you eventually get to play with the legos?
3. You Have to Work Twice as Hard
The problem with going into business with family is that you’ll feel more comfortable being yourself. Meaning that if you stop being motivated, you are less likely to push yourself. Therefore, you should handle everything with more caution.
You should go through your business plans twice as much as you would, had it not been a relative you were going into business with. You should prep your proposals twice as much, and you should look at the numbers more often that you otherwise would. Basically, you need to do everything more because it’s just that much easier to slip up.
4. Remind Yourself That They Are Your Relative
What can be really hard while working with relatives is that you can come to hate them. When it’s a business partner with whom you don’t share any blood relation, it’s ok. You can stop throwing Christmas parties, and stick to the essentials, but when it’s a relative, you need to see them every so often outside the work environment, plus you wouldn’t want all the work stuff to ruin your childhood memories. So you need to make sure that you remind yourself often that you love that person and that you share so much more than a workspace with them.
Business and family don’t work together well most of the time. But, if you plan on going into business with a family member, it doesn’t have to go south. You can put in more effort to save both your family ties and your business.
What about you? Have you ever worked with a family member? How did it go for you? Share with us in the comment section below.