2 Things Parents Should Do When Starting A Business
By Kyle Danner
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.
But this doesn't mean that family businesses are doomed to fail, and it doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice your business for your family or vice versa. It just means that the odds are stacked against you. You and the family will have to work together to ensure both survive.
So how can you create a successful family business where the family and the business work together in harmony? In this article, I'll break down two ways you can start your business off on the right foot.
How Parents Can Create a Successful Family Business Without Losing the Family
Parents are in a unique position in the family business. You play two roles: head of the business and head of the family. While these roles may conflict every now-and-then, they also provide the perfect opportunity for creating peace within the business and the family.
These are the two things you should do to strengthen family bonds while building a successful business.
1. 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.
Involving your children in the business can also 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. You'll need to spend time with the kids outside of the office as well. Dinnertime that's free of work conversation, help with homework, or a shared hobby are simple ways to maintain your relationship outside of work.
Staying active in your family's lives in a non-work related atmosphere is good for you as well. Chaperoning a school field trip or attending a school function midday provides you with a break from the office and demonstrates how much you care for your family.
Sometimes, owners and founders put the business ahead of these kids of activities. "Work is a higher priority." Here's my question to these owners. What’s the point of being your own boss if you don’t enjoy life outside of your office?
2. 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 to what you're facing today. 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?
Ensure the Long-Term Success of Your Family 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.
It's also important to create a solid foundation of processes during the Founding Generation to ensure your business stands the test of time. I highly recommend the Entrepreneurial Operating System®, a set of simple concepts that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs across the globe:
- Clarify their vision
- Get the right people in the right seats
- Track the right metrics
- Solve problems permanently
- Document core processes
- Build traction and boost their bottom line
The system is simple, easy to implement, and (most importantly) it works. If you would like to learn more about EOS and whether it might be a good fit for your business, download a free chapter of Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business. This book breaks down how the process works and what it looks like in action.