The joys and pitfalls of working in your family business

Husband & Wife, Family Business

Posted on 30 Oct 2019

It sounds like a great concept – working with the family, all committed to providing for each other and building something worthy of being passed down to future generations. But while it can be a great joy, it can also be a challenge, with pitfalls not seen in a non-family workplace.

For instance, for many of us, if we have a bad day in the office, we can go home and let off steam to our family about it. But if your bad day in the office is caused by colleagues who are your family, it’s not so easy to grumble about them when you get home!

The good news is that there are plenty of other family-run businesses in the UK, so there’ll be plenty of other companies to turn to for advice. The Institute for Family Business estimates a massive 85% of UK businesses are family owned and, between them, employ around 50% of the British private sector workforce.

So if you’re thinking of setting up a new business with your spouse, your children, your parents or anyone else who’s close to you, it’d be a good idea to think about the possible pitfalls as well as the joys of going into business together.

Pros:

Commitment – When everyone has a shared vision for the business, they will be more committed to making it succeed. When everyone’s motivation is strong, productivity will be no problem! And when everyone is invested in the brand, they’re more likely to take responsibility for what they do for it.

Flexibility – If there’s a problem, a last-minute order or simply a lot of work to do, the family is far more likely to rally round and make sure things get done.

Stability – Family members working for a family company are much more likely not only to be more motivated but also to remain in the business than staff members with no vested interest in the organisation.

Entrepreneurial skills – It doesn’t matter whether entrepreneurialism is down to nature or nurture, in families where the parents have that kind of business acumen, their children are also likely to share those traits. This can only be good for your company!

Cons:

Disagreements will be more intense – With family, there’s nowhere to hide. Everyone will have an opinion and is more likely to express it. And sometimes this could lead to a volatile situation which could spill over into family life – or vice versa. So boundaries need to be set to keep professional and personal lives separate.

Change in family dynamics – The family hierarchy at home may turn out to be very different from the family hierarchy at work, and this could lead to difficulties. If you expect to have a rocky road in this regard, you’ll hopefully be able to work out a way of getting used to the new family dynamics.

Blurring of lines between work and home lives – The main danger of running a family business is that no one’s ever fully off-duty. In order to enjoy your family life as a separate entity from your business, it’s important that everyone understands the boundaries between work and home life and sticks to them.

Change may be difficult – When the younger generations are experienced enough, there’ll come a time when they’re keen to introduce change, whether it’s the introduction of new technologies, products/services or working practices. The change in family and business dynamics in combination with those changes may be difficult for the older members of the family to accept.

If you have any more questions about what you can expect, get in touch!

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.