You know how the old saying goes: “Every family has a weird relative. And if you don’t know who it is, then it’s probably you.” This is funny because families are indeed made up of quirky folks. And while it may be perfectly fine for you to see your relatives at the occasional gathering, how would the dynamic play out if you were working together every day?
If you asked most people whether or not they’d like to work with their family members, you’d probably get an awful lot of negative responses. Yet, about 90% of small businesses in our country are family owned. And with family businesses being so predominant, it’s no wonder that they have such a profound effect on our economy. Research shows that family companies are responsible for 78% of new jobs created and 64% of GDP.
Also, family businesses provide more opportunities for more people. For example, about a quarter of all family businesses have a woman at the helm. Contrast that with the national average for all companies, of which only 15% have a female CEO. This is notable from an ethical standpoint, but also when considering the bottom line. After all, research shows that women-led businesses are increasing five times faster than the national average. And all that growth means they’re generating $1.6 trillion in revenue.
Despite all these familial perks, working with your relatives can still present some unique challenges. Here are a few tips for navigating the quirks that sometimes arise as your personal and professional lives collide:
Put things in writing: This is the perfect way to prevent misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Who knows? It may even help you ward off major family drama.
Strive for fairness: This is obviously easier said than done. But the specter of nepotism can easily hang over a family business. Try to show early and often that your family and non-family employees will be treated the same way.
Address problems at the onset: Misunderstandings can create issues in any workplace, but when family is involved, the stakes get higher. When things aren’t sitting well with you, don’t let them fester. Speak up and find a solution.
Be transparent about your family relationships: A family business is something you can be proud of, so don’t shy away from letting people know about it. Being upfront about it can also help to promote communication and prevent misunderstandings.
If you do end up going into business with your family, you’ll be in good company. And you’ll be in good position (statistically speaking) for success. Just be prepared to do the things necessary to maintain clear communication, keep the peace, and reach new heights together.