Over the last 15 years, we have become experts in discussing the integration required between home, work + working with your partner in a family business. This conversation happens in every entrepreneurial home — maybe including yours, too.
You may be thinking “that’s great YOU can work with your life partner, but a business partnership could never work with mine.”
Or “I’m way too busy trying to keep us organized through activities of daily life, let alone business tasks!”
Or “I already have a full business team to manage, I don’t need more people to be responsible for – family included!”
And we’re here to tell you that almost every single one of our clients came in with those thoughts, too. We’ve witnessed hundreds of parent entrepreneurs achieve a successful family business model as we’ve achieved our own. It’s possible!
Recently, we shared some of our core foundational family-centered principles with Authority Magazine, who published a full interview article here. In this post, we’re sharing a piece of that longer conversation.
Take a read through our list of the five things you need to run a highly successful family business. You might be surprised how simple running a highly successful family business can be!
No. 1 — One Definition of “Team”
You don’t fire your children from your family when they fail to meet a certain benchmark consistently, but otherwise, family + non-family team leadership plays exactly the same.
Don’t make the mistake of overcomplicating your business leadership by adding layers of complexity simply because of the “family” word connotations. There are too many interpretations up for debate, so simplify by taking that off the table altogether.
The team is the team + the team members are all loved + treated like family. There’s no varying loyalties or levels of respect based on family connections.
No. 2 — An Invitation for Your Partner to Join in the Business
We often hear “don’t mix business with pleasure” or “don’t mix business with family” but we wholeheartedly disagree with both. Bringing your partner into the business can be one of the most effective ways to streamline your entrepreneurial life.
Your partner is likely already a major contributor in running the business of family on the home front + has earned your trust on a deeply personal level that can translate well into business.
More often than not, we’ve witnessed partners feeling excluded from a major piece of their loved one’s life + that causes more dissonance than if they were invited into some part of the program.
Not every partner will want to be in the business or will be best fit for a role they feel they should get to play, so it doesn’t work for everyone, but don’t write off the opportunity to try this kind of partnership on for size.
No. 3 — The Value of Organic Leadership
Kids + adults alike can smell dishonesty + insecurity. If you’re pretending that everything is fine when it’s not, you’re not fooling anyone. You’re only weakening your team’s trust in your leadership.
Have a plan for deep communication periodically + show up with intentional honesty. This doesn’t mean to open the floodgates + cry your heart out about something major in your life the minute it’s unfolding. What it means is to bring some thoughtful composure to the team conversation + share “I have a vulnerable share — because I’m human, too! — + here’s my plan for working together within it.”
You will notice more people rise to the occasion to support each other + work together with this authenticity at play than if you work from a place of false perfection or protectiveness as the leader.
No. 4 — The Goal of Integration Instead of “Work-Life Balance”
Instead of trying to keep family life + business life separate, consider what integration would look like for you with one simple leadership system.
How could you treat your business team members more like family? How could you treat your family members at home with a more business-like structure?
If you have one core life operating model, then you spend less time changing between roles + more time focusing on the most productive + profitable effort as a well-rounded leader. There’s no exhausting back + forth.
No. 5 — A Digital Project Management System
We’ve found digital project management software is a nonnegotiable tool for family-centered business owners. We use the free version of Asana to give every person clear responsibilities + resources. This acts as our hub for seeing what has been accomplished + what needs to be accomplished next.
If you are using a paper system, like a wall calendar or a paper planner, then it’s time to upgrade to a system everyone can access from anywhere + view updates in real time. This reduces questions + scheduling mistakes while increasing accountability, so that you have less to track manually + fewer uncomfortable conversations to have.
Running a business is not easy, we know, but after reading this post, we hope you’ll feel relieved to learn that the 5 things you need to run a successful family business aren’t all that far-reaching for you either.