In the 1980s, the TV series Dallas highlighted the potential difficulties of mixing business and blood. Thirty years later, shoulder-padded suits have gone out of fashion, and the oil industry is in decline. However, some things have not changed. Being part of a family business can still be incredibly challenging.
Business partnerships are never easy
They say you can choose your friends but not your family. Most people can choose their business partners, too. Yet, if you are part of a family business, you never got that choice. It was thrust upon you. As everyone knows, you do not always see eye to eye with your parents or siblings. Yet, for the business to be a success, you need to overcome your differences.
Here are some ways to reduce the chance that problems lead to litigation:
- Define the split: Your parent might have loved you equally and left you and your sister equal shares in the business. As kind as that was, it can create problems. Someone should always hold more shares in any partnership. Someone needs to have the casting vote when you cannot agree.
- Define your roles: You and the other family members each have unique skillsets. Try to allocate roles according to your strengths, not your family rank. You probably cannot all dedicate an equal amount of time to the business. Find a way to make it work that avoids the risk of one of you accusing another of not pulling their weight.
- Set boundaries: Many families or couples run highly successful businesses together. Knowing where to draw the line is crucial. If you allow work to infiltrate everything you do, you may destroy your relationship and your business.
Partnership disputes can be especially sensitive in family businesses. It is important to seek outside help to avoid your life becoming a soap opera.