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Tips for Family Entrepreneurship

by Dr. Kathleen Hall
national Entrepreneurship week, Entrepreneur

Starting a company with family members can be a fulfilling experience or a devastating challenge. Taking a few Mindful  Entrepreneurship steps early on in the process will help ensure that your business is successful and your family relationships stay strong.

While some entrepreneurs seek support and assistance from family members, more of them opt to create a business partnership with loved ones instead. Ninety percent of all businesses in the U.S. (both large and small) are family owned. In fact, some of the top American businesses like Comcast, Ford Motors, Mars, and Smucker’s are owned by families.

Family businesses come in all shapes and sizes, from husband-wife partnerships to sibling or extended family teams. No matter which family members are involved, the same benefits can be reaped from the partnership. Studies have shown that family-run businesses are frugal, with leaner business expenses. Family businesses avoid more debt compared to other companies and they retain more talented employees than their competitors.

Though there are plenty of benefits to having a family business, there are negative side effects as well. Sometimes personal disputes can affect the work or work disagreements can damage the relationship. In order to preserve the relationship, you may be reluctant to give honest critiques and comments. Other employees may be “exposed to more of your personal life” when you work with family as well. Thinking about starting a business with your family?

Here are five Mindful Entrepreneurship tips:

  1. Stay on the same page. This is true for any business, but it’s really important for family companies. Make sure you have the same business goals (both short-term and long-term). Put your goals and the specifics on your business relationship in writing, and then stick to it.
  2. Stay professional. Working with family members can create a relaxed and carefree atmosphere, but it’s important to stay professional. Set boundaries at the workplace; try not to discuss your home/personal life at the business.
  3. Keep communicating. Being family means you know what makes the other person tick. This makes for great teamwork, but it can also lead to epic disputes. To keep problems and differences at bay, be sure to have frequent meetings and discussions.
  4. Be honest. The key to any successful partnership is honesty, but that can be hard to accomplish when your partner is your mother or older sibling. Be sure to speak your mind in a productive manner and disagree in a healthy way.
  5. Give each other a little space. Personal space can do wonders for a family business. Sometimes after a heated dispute what you really need is your own private space to cool down. Private offices usually do the trick, but having your own corner of an office or your own desk, can help too.

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