The Ties That Bind: Why You Should Consider Starting A Business With Your Family

Not so long ago, your parents were clutching your hand, guiding you as you struggled and wriggled to walk on your own. When you think about going into business with your parents, it’s natural to have the same desire to wriggle away.

The world of Generation-Y is full of careers and tools that didn’t even exist 20 years ago. With the power of startups and social media, it can sometimes seem like your world is incompatible with your parents’ world — or even that of your siblings. However, your family can make better business partners than you might think.

Maybe Parents Do Know Best

Your family — your parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, in-laws and everyone in-between — can help you to achieve your goals. They’ve seen you at your very best, so they can recognize your strengths. When forming a partnership with them, you must recognize their strengths as well. A few things to keep in mind:

-Despite what you might have thought as a teenager, “the old folks” know a lot about life. They offer experience and insight that you can use to avoid potential pitfalls along the way.

-Conversely, our generation has a lot to teach, as well. You're probably more tech-savvy and see the world differently than the generation before you. Their practical intuition combined with your fresh perspective can lead to solid business opportunities.

-Commitment is also very important in a family business model. I try hard to please my parents — many siblings compare themselves to each other to make sure everyone’s on track. Your relatives are the ones who celebrate graduations, weddings, the births of children and your success in business. They have a stake in how you do. That extra initiative, motivation and effort can pay off in your family business.

-Still, there’s no need to go out of your way to make a good impression on your family. They already know you intimately and don’t need further proof of your capabilities.

Avoiding Family Conflicts

While there are many benefits to starting or joining a business with your family, it’s important to create the right environment to maintain a thriving, long-term partnership. Stop a potential soap opera with these strategies:

1. Establish clear boundaries. You might be your parents’ child or your uncle’s favorite, but you’re also a business partner. When the lines become blurred, poor decisions can occur. If you are equal partners, you must operate to reflect such. Both parties need to respect one another’s opinions and expertise in any given situation.

2. Produce the right balance. Discuss your roles and responsibilities before starting a partnership so your working relationship is clearly defined from the beginning. The balance of power usually tips in the experienced partner’s favor in any relationship, but that might not be so in business.

3. Trust each other. Relatives who helped to raise you are accustomed to being the voice of reason when it comes to your decisions, but this needs to change in a business setting. They will need to trust your judgment. Likewise, you need to respect their opinions.

4. Keep home stuff at home. Aspects of personal relationships must be left at home when you’re in the office. Business is business. It’s important for both parties to adhere to this — even when mutual drama is dominating your personal lives. This is vital to both a healthy working relationship and a healthy company. Your staff will feel even less comfortable than you do regarding an open discussion of your family issues in the office.

Working with my mother has been incredibly rewarding. Starting and building “Pubslush” with her has taught me to adapt and to never be afraid.

Her encouragement is contagious, and it makes me want to work harder to make her proud. We continue to learn from each other every day as we grow our business.

And I didn’t jump into this partnership blindly — I’ve worked with my father and my sisters as well, and each experience has taught me something new that has helped me grow into a stronger businesswoman.

Working with your family doesn’t have to feel like a tight clutch to a security blanket. It can actually be more freeing and more supportive than a traditional business partnership.

Every accomplishment and victory becomes that much sweeter because you’re sharing it with your family. By establishing a foundation of trust, responsibility, and balance from the outset, you can bring together the most important things in your life to find success.

Top Photo Courtesy: Goodfellas