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Family vs Business: 3 Things To Consider

By Family GovernanceApril, 2019March 18th, 20242 min read

Family businesses have to tread a fine line: they must compete like any business, while also maintaining harmony amongst the family – both those who are involved in the family business and those who are not. Can you have the best of both worlds? There are a few common themes that help families maintain this balance:

1. Trust is essential, and what builds trust are good communication and transparency. Anywhere information is not provided, people make up answers to their questions instead, which can lead to the spread of incorrect information, and the erosion of trust. A good governance structure can help avoid this and preempt the potential loss of trust.

2. Disagreements and disputes within businesses always arise, and in family businesses, they can spill over into personal and family life. Families need to learn how to “disagree well” – to raise issues about the business and about the family in a structured way rather than ad hoc over the dinner table, and to agree on how disputes will be resolved – that usually translates to internal processes.

3. Because family members have multiple roles, setting boundaries is especially important. This means boundaries between work life and home life, and treating family space as ‘sacred’. Short breaks from work to indulge fully in family time can be very healthy. The issue of roles becomes especially important as family members transition from doing many different things within the business to bringing in professionals/externals – this is a time to narrow and define their roles within the family enterprise.

Consider This: If it was “family vs business” in your family, which one wins? How often do you mix family & business? Do you have agreed processes for tabling issues and resolving them?

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