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Family and Business: To Mix or Not to Mix?

We have been taught through generations that family and business do not mix. This could not be further from the truth. Novartis, Roche, and Walmart are just three out of 920 of the largest family-owned global companies that made the database, CS Global Family 900 universe.

The fact of the matter, whether global corporations or the mom and pop bakery in your hometown, the family business is more than viable. It requires teamwork, communication, trust, and equal responsibility. This does not sound out of the ordinary when analyzing what defines the success or failure of any business, family-owned or not. 

However, there are some explicit rules and general tips that a family should abide by for the best chance. As in any business, problems will arise; big decisions must be made, and not every moment will be prosperous. As life comes from all angles, so does the ups and downs of managing a business. 

So, what are some ways that a family can increase the odds of business success? And maybe more important, how can a family stick together without the stresses of running a business causing more problems than intended?  

Meet female disruptor and Executive Business Coach Karie Kaufmann. Since 2005, Karie has helped over 1,000 business owners and executives achieve their goals and take their business to the next level. Her clients have achieved double and triple-digit growth in profitability, accomplished through improvements in sales, marketing, team training, systems development, and strategic planning. 

As Karie sees it, “I often hear people in a family business say, we’re both responsible for everything. Well then, no one is responsible for anything, and you’re probably a lot less efficient than you think you are”. 

In a recent sit-down, Karie explained that her clients who have the healthiest family businesses had taken the time to clarify who is doing what. “Families often resist putting things in writing because it feels formal and unnecessary, but being clear on expectations is key to preventing frustration and preserving relationships,” Karie added on the importance of communication between family members. 

Conflict occurs when expectations differ, so communication in a family business is critical. Schedule time for business meetings rather than setting for haphazard communication in passing or at the dinner table. There is a time for everything. Treat an essential issue between family as though you would in any other business matter. 

Expanding on these ideas, Karie says that many entrepreneurs blur the line between business and personal. She adds, “In a family business, it feels nearly impossible to separate the two – especially if you live in the same household.” The key is to establish some ground rules. For example:

  • No business talk between 7 PM – 8 AM
  • Only share the good news about the business at the dinner table (save the challenges to discuss in the office)
  • Business paperwork or supplies are not allowed to overtake the dining room.

Karie says that these rules should be posted in the kitchen if you must, so the family can hold each other accountable. 

Karie believes in, “Resolve to love your family more than your business. You might be late for dinner on occasion or disagree on how to handle a situation, but if the business negatively impacts the family, that will be remembered for more then 24 hours. It’s not worth it.”

For more information, please visit the links below.

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I am a physician and career entrepreneur. After studying medicine, I founded a social media marketing agency and a fitness equipment company as well as direct a non profit. My goal is to inspire others to achieve their dreams and create the freedom in their life that they know is within reach. I host a podcast Mentors Collective to interview some of my favorite business minds.

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