Finding the Balance Between Being a Family and Working in Business Together

Navigating the complexities of a family business can be challenging. With the mingling of familial ties and professional responsibilities, finding the right balance is crucial. Over the years, I have worked with several UHNW family businesses and observed how the intersection of family and business dynamics can shape their success or failure. Here, I will share some insights into achieving equilibrium between being a family and running a business together.

Separation of Roles

One of the first steps towards achieving balance is to distinctly separate familial roles from business roles. Each family member involved in the business must have a defined role and clear responsibilities. These roles should be based on skills and competencies rather than favoritism or seniority.

Additionally, create separate spaces for family and business discussions. For example, family gatherings should not become business meetings, and likewise, business boardrooms should not be the place for family disagreements. This clear demarcation helps maintain professional integrity while preserving family harmony.

Effective Communication for a Family Working in Business Together

In a family business, effective communication plays a pivotal role. Emphasize transparency in business dealings and open dialogue about the family’s goals and visions for the company. Set regular family business meetings where all stakeholders can discuss business matters.

However, be mindful to keep the communication respectful and professional. Personal issues and emotions should not seep into business discussions. And equally, business differences should not influence personal relationships.

Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are inevitable in any business and even more so in a family business due to the intertwined personal relationships. It’s crucial to have a pre-agreed upon conflict resolution mechanism. It can involve a neutral third party, a family council, or a family business advisor like myself who understands the nuances of family dynamics and business.

When conflicts arise, focus on the issue at hand rather than personal attacks. Remember, the objective is to find a solution that benefits the business and maintains family unity.

Succession Planning

One of the most critical areas where family and business overlap is succession planning. It’s essential to start this process early and involve all relevant family members. It should be based on merit and capability rather than entitlement.

As part of succession planning, consider how to prepare the next generation for leadership. This preparation involves not just business education but also wealth psychology education. It’s crucial for them to understand the responsibilities and emotional challenges that come with wealth and leadership.

Shared Vision and Values

A shared vision for the business and shared family values can serve as the glue that keeps the family and business together. Develop these together, involve all family members in the process, and revisit these regularly. These shared goals and values can help guide business decisions and also strengthen family bonds.

Finding the Balance Between Being a Family and Working in Business Together Conclusion

Balancing the dual identity of being a family and business partners is no easy feat. However, by separating roles, enhancing communication, establishing a conflict resolution process, planning succession early, and rallying around a shared vision and values, you can strike a balance that fosters both business success and family harmony.


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