The Family Hustle: Do Business & Blood Mix?

March 14, 2014  |  

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As the first person in my family to start a business, I often get asked whether or not I would ever consider an entrepreneurial venture with them.

In two simple words, “Hell no.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my family and would walk across hot coals for them. I just wouldn’t mix business with blood. We are not the Braxtons, T.I and Tiny and definitely not the Kardashians, though I do tip my hat off to clans that are able to collect coins in a joint hustle. Many people don’t realize the strains that running your own business can put on you. And when you try to add a loved one into the mix it has a high probability of turning all types of sour.

For one thing family is not like a regular Joe or Jane you find off the street to fill a position in your company, and that’s assuming you aren’t going into a partnership where everyone has equal say. There are deeper feelings involved that make separating work from your personal life a little hard to do. Even if everyone involved has the best intentions I have seen too many fights about what happened in the office and who isn’t doing what spill into family gatherings. Did you really just invite me over to bear witness to you and your sister arguing about business that should stay within your business? “How could you do me like that? I am your flesh and blood!”

Even though family and business doesn’t work for me that doesn’t mean it can’t work at all. In fact, some of the most successful businesses are in the hands of family members with a shared vision. If you are interested in partnering up there are a few things you might want to consider.

Choose wisely. As much as you love your mother, sibling or relative that does not make them a great business partner. Be honest with yourself about their capabilities.

Set expectations early. Are they going to be a partner or one of your employees? Make sure you set your expectations early to prevent any assumption and confusion. If  you are the boss, they have to respect that, period.

Handle your business like business. One of the biggest reasons why people find themselves wrapped up in drama is they didn’t treat their family member like another employee. The second you pull away from how you would normally handle business, lines get blurred. Draw up contracts and put all of your cards on the table. Failure to do so could land you on an episode of The People’s Court.

Support each other’s endeavors. Rather than start a venture with one of my family members I actually like the idea of supporting their entrepreneurial goals, which leaves the door open to collaborating without tons of red tape.

Pay attention to unhealthy signs. If you start to notice that things just aren’t working out stop and address the situation before it turns into a catastrophe. Even if it hurts, it’s better to walk away early.

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