Working with family can be an amazing blessing.  I know – I am fortunate to work with my dad and step-mom.  No one has your back and your best interests in mind like family.  But working with family can also add stress and strife if everyone is not on the same page.  We have found that clearly defining expectations, goals, and salary makes the experience of working with family rewarding and joyous.

With a non-family member employee, you would not leave it open ended as to what that employee’s duties and responsibilities are.  You would have a defined position for him/her.  You would have tasks that need to be completed.  You would have hours of the day and days of the week that he or she is expected to work.  The same is true with family.  In every business, especially small businesses, the owners and employees wear many hats.  Ensuring that you and your family member co-worker/co-owner are on the same page with duties and responsibilities is key to helping prevent hard feelings that one person is not pulling his/her weight.

When you start a business with someone else, you want to make sure that both parties have similar short and long-term goals.  While these may morph during the life of the business, having a cohesive foundation helps the owners pull in the same direction.  When family members join together in a business, it is just as important, if not more, to also ensure that the members see the business going in the same direction.  Take time to respect the different opinions.  This could mean a younger generation bringing fresh new ideas or technology to the benefit of the business.  Or relying upon the experiences had and relationships developed from an older generation.  The different knowledge and experiences of the family members should be a blessing to the business, a synergy if you will, not a burden.

Talking about money with an employer is difficult.  It can be even more difficult when that financial discussion involves family members.  The familial relationship adds a different dynamic that is not present in the typical employee-employer relationship.  To avoid any hard feelings, it is vital that there is a frank and candid discussion about salary, bonuses, and other benefits.  If not, there is a huge likelihood that one party will feel underpaid and underappreciated or the other will feel that they are paying too much and receiving too little.  Being able to speak openly about the financial aspect of working with family will help avoid awkward family meals.

Working with family has many benefits that you do not have in a non-familial work relationship.  Getting to learn from parents or grandparents is invaluable.  Being able to pass your business on to daughters and/or sons that you built with blood, sweat, and tears is something that most people can only dream of.  Make sure that these experiences are positive by following these tips.  And if you need help in forming that relationship or getting that relationship on a better track, let us help you.

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