By their nature, family businesses are always in two worlds at once. Family is what makes working life fun and easy, it’s what supports and motivates you- it’s what you work for. Business, on the other hand, requires sacrifice, but also passion, and excitement for what you do. Every family business I’ve ever met has had to work hard to balance these scales, and it’s not easy. If you’ve ever had to impose the ‘no talking shop at the dinner table’ rule, you know what I mean!
But achieving this balance between family and business is important- too much of one can overwhelm the other, often without you realising until it’s too late. Personal family problems and disagreements, if left unresolved, can leak into the business, creating rifts over time. By the same token, too much ‘talking shop’ can lead to family members getting so wrapped up with the business that they have difficulty spending quality time just being a family.
So how do we avoid this?
I recall a past Forum speaker, who shared how he had entered the business owned by his uncle and father. He reminisced about the relationships he had with both- his uncle was very business-focused, whereas his father was every bit the family man, even while at work. He said that the close, yet opposite relationships he had with them had informed his relationships with his own son and nephew; and while he admitted to struggling to balance the scales every now and then, he had largely been able to keep it even.