Family Matters: How to Start a Business With Your Family



By: Amanda Jensen

For many careerists and entrepreneurs, there exists a divide between family life and business. Being able to put down a suitcase after a long day of work and shed the daily concerns to enjoy time with the family is a rewarding break for many businessmen and women. Others might find it difficult to keep business from mixing with family during dinner table conversations and sudden business calls throughout evenings.

For a rare minority, mixing family and business isn’t a matter of conflict – but rather a game plan in achieving a successful business.

What are the benefits of running a family business?

In fact, there are a multitude of benefits that business-owners reap when working with their family starting out.

These benefits include:

  • Trustworthy and negotiable cost source of labor when required
  • Contacts for emergency loans during times of financial difficulty
  • Strengthen your family’s relationship through professional success
  • A clearly defined structure of succession for keeping the company part of your family

Despite the skepticism of many professionals, family-operated startups can fare well with the right practices and boundaries in place.

Drawing the line – Business vs. Family

Even if you bring your family on-board for a business together, clearly defining the differences between work and home is a completely necessary measure to prevent misunderstandings between your family and other employees.

Making this distinction means not playing favorites at the workplace, even if you feel that it may cause tension back home. Promotions, pay raises, and commendations should be based solely on the merit of employees’ performance.

Providing family members with special accommodations for no other reason than your relation sets the stage for accusations of favoritism, unfair business practices, and workplace discrimination.

To appropriately draw the line between work and family, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Decisions made with your business – administrative, financial, or otherwise – should always be with the benefit of your company in mind first. While “family” might appear first in the phrase, “family business” should be business first.
  2. Make sure that your management is clearly defined. It can be easy to create a confusing, agitated work environment is employees do not recognize clear lines of management. Family members should not be given a “substitute manager” status in your absence without a clear explanation to other employees. Your workplace hierarchy should never be compromised due to family.
  3. Avoid hiring inexperienced family members when possible or relevant to your workplace. Filling positions solely on the merit of familial relationship is a common practice, but it’s one of the most common pitfalls of family business management that results in poor productivity and accusations of unfair hiring practices.

Value your business, but also your family

Most importantly, it’s important to shed those workplace times when you get home. While success in a business can raise your family’s esteem, keeping a line between work and home is necessary both ways. Allowing your household’s relationships to hinge on the comings and goings of work can seriously jeopardize one’s well-being in both environments.

Even though your family might be taking the daily grind with you, taking time to connect on a personal level without worrying about work can keep your family together even if your family business goes under. That being said, the family business concept is one that will stay strong in the business world, and it will continue to be a fruitful model for hundreds of families with an entrepreneurial spirit who know the right practices.

About the Author

Amanda Jensen is an author with AAMI, who offers insurance solutions to Australia. You can find Amanda on Twitter @AmandaJensen8.

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