Given the right conditions, an enterprise where you’re working alongside family can work spectacularly well. And these kinds of business can often generate a truly special atmosphere which is hard to create in any other way.

Equally, this same scenario can sometimes throw up some unique problems of its own. So to help you decide if it’s right for you, here’s a run-down of the major advantages of working with family – along with (a few) points which could make some people think twice.

Together on the front line

It’s often said you spend even more time with your co-workers than you ever do with your own family.

But that just doesn’t have to be so. If you’re working with family, then you get to spend lots of time with someone you would choose to be with anyway – a win-win situation.

On the down side, some say folks can act very differently indeed when they’re in the workplace.

So, it’s a matter of weighing up what to expect, and whether you think there are real risks which can’t be managed.

Insider knowledge

In a family business, you know far more about your work colleagues than would ever be the case with outside colleagues.

You understand what makes each other tick; and you know all their strengths and weaknesses.

And what’s maybe more important than that, you even know when they need to be left alone – so you’re unlikely to misread attitudes and motivations.

At best, you’re working beside someone you would always want in your corner.

It’s rarely a gamble

Unlike working with strangers, you’ll know exactly what people are capable of.

Your background knowledge will be both broad and deep, which should make for high-quality decision making.

If a family member is worth a contract, you’ll know, and so you will be far less likely to make rash decisions and hire someone in the hope you can make things work out.

In addition, taking on a family member means you already know your new worker shares your values. So you can hit the ground running in many respects, right from day one.

That also creates greater workforce stability, both immediately and over the longer term.

When employing family, it’s essential to get role expectations agreed right at the outset.

Unlike outsiders, who will be more likely to accept their understandings about what the job will evolve, family may feel betrayed if changes are introduced further down the line to limit previously unforeseen negative outcomes.

A unique trust situation

Working with family, trust is a constant factor you’ll always be able to rely on.

Unexpected challenges can arrive out of the blue in any business, and these are so much easier to handle when you know that family are always there to watch each other’s backs.

In good and bad times, family loyalties will bind workers together with a commitment even the most professional business outfits would find almost impossible to match.

A family business quickly becomes a brand

With a successful family business, it’s about business – and about family too.

Other corporate businesses labor long and hard just to try and create a workplace atmosphere with some shared sense of ‘family feeling.’ But your family can do this almost without trying.

Other family members will be naturally attracted to the business, because everyone feels that the enterprise already reflects who they are and what they want to be.

They will share pride in the products or services the business offers and thus remain a unique resource which will sustain the business through thick and thin.

Characterful but professional

Because family character is such an important business asset, it’s very important to get the professional side absolutely right too.

Everyone should be clear about roles and boundaries with no sense of favoritism or special treatment.

Otherwise tensions can develop, and the strength of the business then becomes its weakness.

And experience suggests that family conflicts in the workplace are far more destructive, and far harder to resolve than other kinds of working disagreements.

In business, and in life, there is no stronger bond than family.

But to reap the benefits of such a precious asset, you must always plan ahead to make sure every decision you make will protect both the business and the family relationship.

Author: Bruce Hakutizwi, USA and International Accounts Manager for BusinessesForSale.com, the world’s largest online marketplace for buying and selling small and medium size businesses. Bruce has over 7 years’ experience working within the US business transfer marketplace connecting buyers and sellers.

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