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2 Things Parents Should Do When Starting A Business

By Kyle Danner - February 08, 2016

When parents start a business, they risk losing the family in the process while trying to keep the doors open. That’s understandable given the demands of a new venture. It’s a lot like having another child. Despite these risks, there are two things parents should do to strengthen family bonds while building a successful business.

Involve the family in the business

A business presents a wealth of opportunities to teach kids skills such as planning, managing and budgeting they may not gain elsewhere. Bringing the kids to work makes the very real connection to where the money comes from to pay for music lessons, sports uniforms and vacations. It can foster a shared sense of purpose that “we’re all in this together.” This does not suggest a sense of entitlement or that joining the business is expected. Rather, like mom and dad, the kids have to work hard, sacrifice and prove themselves worthy of the rewards.

Of course, limits should be set, so the business is not all consuming. Dinnertime that's2 free of work conversation, help with homework or a shared hobby are simple ways to build a family connection. Chaperoning a school field trip or attending a school function midday is a break from the office and demonstrates care for your family. Sometimes owners and founders respond to these ideas about the priority of work. I ask what’s the point of being your own boss if you don’t enjoy it occasionally?

Connect with other entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be a lonely road. Chambers of commerce, startup incubators and mastermind groups offer ways to network with others. Connections outside the family are essential to gain others’ perspective to business problems. Chances are other business owners have struggled with similar problems. Why re-create the wheel when you can learn from them? More importantly, these can be the places to share frustrations and “vent” instead of the dinner table. Remember, if all you do is complain about the business when you’re with family, how can they be expected to be supportive or for the kids to have any future interest in the business?

What happens in the Founding Generation sets the tone for the business and family for years to come. The strategies shared may seem like “no-brainers.” However, it’s not uncommon for family to take a backseat to business and for the stress of a startup to take over an owner’s life. Take the long view and establish boundaries early by engaging the family in the business and connecting with other entrepreneurs. This lays the groundwork for healthier, more cohesive relationships for the current and future generations.

Photo Credit: iStock.com/baona

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