How can we make ourfamily business work better?
How family businesses start
Many family businesses start with the profession of the business owner: an electrician starts an electrical contracting business, or an accountant starts an accountancy practice.
A little way into the life of the business, the founder (along with the spouse of the founder) starts to appreciate that it takes more than being a great electrician/accountant to build a great electrical contracting/accountancy business – and the business flounders.
The family business is born when the spouse decides that “enough is enough” and joins in to sort out the chaos created by the founder in order to protect the interests of the family. (Read about my husband-and-wife coaching here).
Over time, such family businesses can grow to become multi-generational organisations with brothers, kids, aunties and cousins all becoming involved.
The unique challenges of being in business with your spouse:
70% of all businesses in Australia are family businesses, and a large percentage of those can be classed as husband-and-wife family businesses.
In my experience, wonderful opportunities come from being in business with your spouse. This way of working holds the possibility of providing very well for your family as well as experiencing incredible growth as a couple.
Here’s the catch: waking up beside your business partner in bed every morning also comes with a bunch of unique challenges.
What makes family businesses so especially challenging?
- It is incredibly difficult to “leave work at work”.
- Sometimes the spouse who joined as the admin/finance partner can feel like they’ve sacrificed their career.
- Sometimes the admin partner has joined out of necessity rather than from skill, training or experience in this field.
- Relationship dynamics can get in the way of business partnership dynamics.
5. If the business fails, it can wreck the marriage as well.
6. Uneven power dynamics can cause tensions in the office and at home.
7. Issues of hierarchy may creep into the relationship.
8. Hiring can be an obstacle for husband-and-wife teams.
9. Investing in a husband-and-wife business looks risky for outside investors.
Do you experience some of those challenges in your family business too? Most husband-and-wife partnerships do, but there is no reason why you can’t learn to move past them.
In my experience, clarity is the key. Both parties need to be absolutely clear about their respective roles and the purpose of the business as well as its direction and long-term goals.
Five Steps to Discover
This kind of clarity must be discovered and built. My “Five Steps to Discovery Process”, more here, is about exactly that. Check it out and take the first steps towards your own clarity today (P.S. The Five Steps Process is mostly free and without any obligation, sales or nonsense – just insight and practical next steps).
The truth is, when you get a husband-and-wife family business working well, there is nothing more satisfying. The two of you will develop your relationship to an entirely different level, the business will thrive, and your family life will start to feel like a true partnership… I promise you.
How do you compare against Bey and Jay?
Complete the Beyoncé and Jay-Z survey here to find out how you compare against the most famous husband-and-wife team in the music biz.
It’s fun and takes just a few minutes. Plus, if you and your spouse complete the survey together, it will lead to powerful conversations that open the door to new opportunities.
Your next step:
Sometimes it’s hard to see the chaos we’ve created until we step back and look at the situation.
I have created a detailed self-analysis tool called “The Whirlpool Report”. You can go and complete the full Whirlpool survey here now and you’ll be sent your report in the next 24 hrs, entirely for free. You can also complete the short self analysis Whirlpool survey via the form on the right on this page.
Make yourself a cup of tea and take 10 minutes to complete the survey now. I think it will give you some useful food for thought.
Further reading about husband-and-wife family business
- I have a comprehensive list of resources for family business on this page here
- There is a page with videos and other resources dedicated to mental health and personal wellbeing for business owners here (also especially family business owners)
- I’ve written about my own experiences in family business here
- I’ve written about some of the challenges for husband and wife business partners here
- All about some of the pitfalls here
- I wrote about how to make family business work well here
- Here is a LinkedIn article about husband and wife family businesses I wrote
- And also an article on Medium.com about waking up beside your business partner every morning
- And of course don’t forget to take the Bey and Jay Family Business Survey and find out how you compare to the King and Queen of the music business here
Tools, surveys, further reading
And you might be interested to complete my “Are you stuck in a whirlpool” survey. Within about 24 hrs from completing the survey, you’ll receive a detailed report, that you may find quite interesting and full of food for thought.
You may also want to have a look at the website of Family Business Australia. There are a bunch of great resources and information there as well. Follow this link