Starting a family-run business is a great way to build a legacy and earn money based on your own terms. The impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on American job loss has more individuals ditching the standard corporate 9 to 5 and seeking out entrepreneurship opportunities where they have more control of their own destiny.
For some, this means pursuing entrepreneurship with family. Whether husband-wife, father-son, sibling-sibling, or a multi-generational mix, family business comes with immense rewards if you are willing and able to put in the work. After being in business with family for the past 12 years, owning and operating four Re-Bath franchise locations, I’ve seen firsthand the secrets to long-term success.
The below tips are meant to debunk the common myths of family business while providing tips for successful operations:
A family business means everyone is the boss: FALSE
It is very common for family members to wear multiple hats in a family business, but without a clear leader, no one knows who is truly responsible for what. It doesn’t have to be this way. From the onset, divide roles and responsibilities based on skill set and talent. Sure, you’ll still communicate together to make big, potentially company-altering decisions, but in order to keep day-to-day operations moving successfully, it’s imperative to become an expert in your role and stay in your lane.
One of the main benefits of operating a family-run franchise, for example, is that you are simply following the guide of a proven model under a trusted brand name. With a clear layout of the necessary roles and responsibilities needed to succeed, you’re able to delegate ownership over specific tasks and assignments – all while having immense support from the franchisor, mitigating the pressure as a family.
By clearly setting boundaries, assigning roles and establishing ownership, you’re building a culture of accountability. This inspires everyone to become the boss of their own role, ultimately driving the business forward without cultivating tension through blurred lines.
A family business experiencing conflict signals its demise: FALSE
Family businesses should encourage conflict. When a business is faced with conflict, it is an opportunity to learn, grow and advance. A healthy family business embraces this constructive conflict, manages it well, and allows it to create new approaches, innovations and strategies.
For example, amid the pandemic, there were certainly challenges and frustrations that came with being an in-home remodeling business as lockdown restrictions impacted operations. However, by pivoting to all-new virtual design consultations and promoting these throughout the communities we operate, our Re-Bath locations saw an immediate uptick in consumer leads converting to sales.
Don’t let conflict become a road block for the progression of your business. Instead, promote open communication and active listening that will result in creative solutions propelling your business forward.
A family business means only family should work for the business: FALSE
Qualified family members can be a great asset to your business, but hiring outside talent brings in new perspectives and fresh opinions, all while filling talent gaps and contributing to the company’s strategic future direction.
By joining a franchise system, you also have a network of franchisees at your disposal to consult with and strengthen your business – anything from marketing best practices and operations to technology and more. There is an outside support system ready to help your family business maintain its sustained success. If you’re a family that has invested in a particular franchise, odds are, there are other families within the network that you can lean on when it comes to outsider advice and best practices.
Remember if and when you hire outsiders, be sure to set the same standards as other family members in the business. The worst thing you can do is play favorites. One key rule of thumb is to treat everyone equally, whether they are blood relatives or not. The strongest of family businesses understand that this practice also extends to customers, as exceptional customer service reigns supreme in the success of any business.
A family business is often full of drama and feelings getting hurt: FALSE
The emotional experience of starting a family business can be stressful, but success depends on the entire family’s ability to join forces to succeed. This is where communication plays a critical role. Practice transparency, build trust, align business values, set clear personal grow trajectories, set up weekly meetings, and allow time for family bonding outside of the office.
In fact, interpersonal skills only strengthen in family businesses and serve as the key to their longevity.
By establishing these best practices, you’re promoting a culture of emotional intelligence that prioritizes the importance of empathy, allowing family-run businesses to avoid “drama” and instead focus on a positive work environment.
Family businesses have tremendous benefits if done right. Consider the extra layer of support from a franchise business model to benefit you while navigating some of the challenges and help you earn greater revenues at better margins. If you keep working together with the same goals in mind, you will succeed as a business and as a family.