Most people say you shouldn’t work with family or friends.
“What if it goes badly?” they ask.
“But, what if you make sure it goes well?” I ask.
Because, if you work to make sure it goes well, as we have here in our own friends-and-family business, you get to spend every day helping folks with people you love who share your goals and values. What could be better? What could be more fun?
Here are the three rules to successfully working with friends and family.
1. The Huddle Rule: We learned this one from our friends and clients, Chapman Heating & Cooling, a three-generation family business. Once a week, they meet as a family to specifically discuss working on the business together. Imagine a family meeting… talking about business… where communication lines are kept open and issues are freely discussed with trust and respect. We huddle weekly.
2. Mom’s Rule: And because we huddle once a week, we work really hard not to talk to each other about work outside of work. This was mom’s rule (request) when Lynn and I (actual brother and sister) started working together. She was worried it would dominate our conversations when we got together at Christmas and other gatherings. We totally honor her request. You don’t think you can separate work and family? Have you tried? Try harder. It certainly helps when there are no hard feelings.
3. The No Martyrs Rule: And there won’t be hard feelings if you immediately communicate your issues and challenges. Do NOT keep your mouth shut and carry the woe-is-me burden. Don’t ever let issues metastasize. Because your friends and family love you, they’re not intentionally trying to hurt you or work an agenda that’s counter to yours.* You have to know that… you can always relax knowing that… and you also have to know that’s one of the great benefits of a friends-and-family business.
*Unless you’re in a totally dysfunctional family business… in which case, you need deeper help than a blog post, yo.