(Courtesy of Robert P. Scott)
You go into a new small business and need help. Who can you trust? Your first thought is of your family or relatives. After all, they are the ones who love and care about you more than anyone else on the planet, right? Well, yes and no. Blood may be thicker than water, but it isn’t always thicker than money and envy. I have had numerous clients in family businesses, and unfortunately, most of these companies struggle with unique challenges.
There is a saying I refer to many times in my seminars and private practice, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Nowhere is this truer than in family-owned small businesses. The troubles that face this type of business are many. First and foremost, there can only be one leader in any company. Call them the President, CEO or King, someone has to make the final, and often difficult, decisions alone. The buck stops somewhere, or else the business becomes dysfunctional. Usually, in family-owned enterprise there are simply too many cooks in the kitchen.
Another point to consider is that you are not just dealing with a brother, sister or cousin; you are involved with spouses, children and all of the extended family that surround them. If it is best for the business that a relative be demoted, moved or even fired, the aftershocks of such a decision can affect every holiday and family gathering for the rest of your life. If the other family member happens to be your husband or wife, the situation gets even more intense. Not only are you suffering at work, but you take that angst home with you every night and your private life can be destroyed.
Here are some simple suggestions that may ease some of the stresses associated with having loved ones in your company.
- Decide who is in charge, and stick to that decision no matter how uncomfortable the circumstances are.
- Don’t have general discussions. Instead, assign specific tasks and responsibilities that are time and goal driven.
- It is not my way, it is always the company way. Exceptions should not be given to people just because they are family.
- Don’t be vague.
- It is better to face uncomfortable issues daily rather than allow them to build into resentment and distrust.
Most of all, remember that your business is not you or your family. It is a living entity that has needs and follows rules that have nothing to do with your or your relatives’ needs. Always do what is best for the business.
Bob Scott specializes in coaching, solutions and systems for small business owners and is the author of the book Small Business Pain Relief. A devoted consultant and a dynamic speaker, Bob KNOWS how much you want to succeed, and he UNDERSTANDS how much you have at stake. He has experienced, first hand, how the weight of business reality and a lack of guidance can slowly crush the hope inside every single business owner. His WISDOM and INSIGHT can guide you over the many hurdles of small business so that you don’t have to take the time to stop, brush yourself off and build up the courage to face the next hurdle. Bob sees your potential, and he helps you generate solutions and systems for your business. Perhaps the biggest small business secret that Bob will share with you would be: You don’t have to build it alone!
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