THE BLOG
10/14/2013 11:55 am ET | Updated Dec 10, 2013

3 Lessons You Wish You Had Learned Before Starting A Family Business

The economy is growing shakier and shakier by the day and suddenly you begin to notice the rise of small and family businesses. At every dinner party or every family reunion your cousin Bob seems to have a grand idea of how he can make everyone rich and for some crazy reason you have finally fallen for it. How bad could it possibly be? You are family, you have been friends and you should agree on most things because after all you've known each other your entire lives right? Wrong.

Now one year later you reflect on the decision you made and ask yourself why did I have to learn the hard way that this wouldn't be smooth sailing? Nothing could have possibly prepared you for the three lessons you wish you had learned before starting a family business:


It's Always Personal.

Don't you absolutely hate when people preface a statement by using the words "don't take this personally but..." ? Usually the statement that follows that preface is almost always a statement you take personally. We've all heard that and quite frankly when it comes to running a business especially with family and friends it's always personal. There is no such thing as a professional hat and a personal hat that you take on and off at your own convenience. Words hurt no matter what.

Family Business, Means Family Business.
The words family business should really be a play on words because the moment you start a family business is the moment your business becomes the family's business. It doesn't matter how hands off you want the rest of your family to be it's nearly impossible to avoid the thousands of opinions and "If I were you I'd do this...." moments. Learn to take it with a grain of salt and remind yourself you signed up for this.

Failure or Success You're Still Family.
This may be one of the hardest lessons you will ever have to endure. While you and everyone involved in this business venture may argue every day one thing that will always remain is that you are still family. If your business crashes today or ends up on the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow there is nothing you can do to change the fact that your business partner(s) are family. Be kind to each other, apologize and make up frequently and never become so consumed with the business that you forget to cherish your most important asset, your family love.