Some tips for surviving and thriving in your family business

FOR the thousands of family businesses operating in the Ireland, having little separating the dining table from the board room table can be the recipe for not only a family feud but also for business strife.

While the knowledge passed down through generations can be the business' strength, family-run businesses can present some unique entrepreneurial challenges including improper delegation of duties, undefined roles and responsibilities and familial relationships that pull at emotions and can cause bad business decisions.

If you are in business with your relatives, follow these tips to make your family-run business thrive.

Play to each family member's strengths. Establishing boundaries and having clearly defined roles, responsibilities and authority can determine whether a family business will succeed or fail. In a family business, order is even more important than it is in any other kind of business because you have two things that pull at you constantly.

Keep personal matters out of the business.

Family members typically have insight into each other's personality and thought process that non-related business partners wouldn't have, making crossing the professional line into personal terrain tempting. While lashing out at a co-worker would be out of bounds in most corporate situations, it's easier to lose your cool when there's a personal relationship involved.

Leave your emotions at the door and remember your family members are your co-workers when you're at the office.

Be understanding of the generational divide.

The generation gap in a family business can create some tensions. Here, decades of experience can clash with modern business methods, often with ongoing tensions.

Your business has to strike a balance: Experience has got the business where it is, so new ideas may have to fit in; and, while the business has to move forward it doesn't always have to steamroll established practices.

Separate personal from professional time.

While ideally acting as a family at home and professionals at work, most family-run businesses operate on both levels at all times. However, the business has to be run in a different way than the family is run - set time limits on business discussions at the dinner table to allow everyone involved a break from their respective jobs.


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