Running a Business with Your Family: Good or Bad Idea?

running a business with your family good or bad ideaFamily-operated companies are much rarer in today’s business landscape, but that doesn’t mean they’re becoming less effective. Some love the idea of working with family members, while others think it sounds more like a punishment.

The Pros of Working With Your Family

Family businesses can be hugely successful. Take TYME, a profitable beauty brand, as one example. Jacynda Smith has launched and grown her company with the help of her three brothers, husband, cousin, and family friends. She believes her family’s involvement has been one of the greatest factors in the company’s success – and other businesses can attest to this as well. Here are a few of the pros to working with your family:

  • Honesty and accountability. Who tells you like it is more than your own family? One of the perks of having family members in your business is that they’ll hold you accountable and won’t worry about hurting your feelings. This can be painful on the front end, but beneficial down the road.
  • Work-life balance. Worried about not spending enough time with your family? When you work with your family, you’re able to merge both of these aspects of your life without feeling guilty.
  • More control. Wouldn’t it be better for you and your spouse to own the entire company, as opposed to giving 50 percent of the control to some third-party individual? Most people think so.

The Cons of Working With Your Family

Working with your family isn’t always smooth sailing, though. One of the classic examples of how heated family businesses can get is the feud between Puma and Adidas. You can read more about the story here, but the basic is that the original company split as a result of sibling animosity. The result was two separate (and successful) companies, but things could have ended up much worse. Having said that, here are some cons to working with your family:

  • Mixing business with pleasure. One of the dangers of keeping the business in the family is that you could end up mixing business with pleasure. In other words, family gatherings are no longer light and carefree – business will always be discussed.
  • Never being able to step away. If you work with your spouse, adult children, and best friend, you won’t ever be able to fully step away from work – even when you’re on vacation. This can increase your overall level of stress and inhibit your ability to relax.
  • Hurting people’s feelings. The third major con is there will be hurt feelings. When you run a family business, there will inevitably come a point in time where someone in the family wants to work for the company, but isn’t qualified. You can’t just let them work for you because they’re family. Telling someone no can cause some strife in your inner circle.

Making a Personal Decision

You can read all about the pros and cons of working with your family, but it ultimately comes down to the personal factors involved in your situation. What is your family dynamic like? Are there marriages on the brink, or have couples been happily together for many decades? Are there people who have sketchy pasts, or does everyone fully trust each other? Would a bad business deal cause your family to split up, or would everyone be able to put issues aside at Christmas dinner?

Only you know your family. The decision regarding whether or not to go into business with them will probably be made on your gut feeling. Consider the factors discussed in this article, but remember that every family is unique.

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