Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Establish norms that separate personal from business, part of Starting a Business with Family and Friends.
- I have established and managed three businesses involving friends and family. One of the biggest challenges I have faced is keeping my business life and my personal life separate. Your business, especially if it's new, can permeate every minute of your waking hours. Although you may enjoy your business immensely, I believe it's dangerous to allow your new venture to become the same as your everyday existence. Separation is very important. We've talked about establishing roles in your business.
Family and friends expect our behaviors and preferences to be the same in the workplace as they've witnessed over the dinner table or while watching a sporting event. These expectations can cause issues, as your expectations and reality head in different directions. So, to avoid these unpleasant expectation mishaps, here are a few tips you and your business team can put in place. Talk openly about what you like to work on. Things you like to do in your personal life could become burdensome if they become expectations at work.
Just because you like to write poetry or short stories as a hobby, doesn't necessarily mean you'll like being your company's communications leader. Strive to be honest with yourself and your collegues and say what you want to do and prefer not to do, and encourage your teammates to do the same. Ask for help. Needing a helping hand or another set of eyes to look over something can make you feel like you're burdening your already busy teammates in the workplace.
Do your best to get beyond this concern. Sharing ideas and working together on tasks can help you all be better teammates in your business. However, that's something you'll want to do during work hours, not during other times. Remember, keeping business and personal time separate is important. Create team norms. Many people who start businesses with friends and family do not believe they need team norms. After all, you know each other well.
Even people who spend lots of time together are apt to run into new shared experiences in a business setting. So, I highly recommend you create business team norms and follow them strictly. Here are a few I recommend. Determine how you will proceed if you disagree with each other. Opposing views can be healthy in a business environment, but can also put a strain on the expectations of support from family or friends. Talk about the potential for disagreement and set up steps where you can each share your views and come to a common conclusion, or get another teammate to help you break any deadlocks.
Remember, these conversations should be reserved for business hours. Openly share what skills you appreciate in each other and leverage these skills. In my own business, I have a teammate that is fantastic with detail. While she appreciates my ability to come up with new approaches to getting things done. Knowing this and leveraging that appreciation for each other makes it easier to work together. In fact, together, we produce better products than either of us do when working alone.
Sharing appreciation for each other's skills can also help you work better with your family and friends. Unlike my other recommendations, this typically can be done during either business or personal time. It's all part of maintaining good relationships. Don't have one primary decision maker for everything. Spread the wealth when you can. You can have an overall boss that resolves issues when people cannot come to agreement, but giving each person in your business something to be in charge of is a great way to keep balance, if your team members have the capability to serve in those leadership roles.
Keep these approaches in mind and you'll have weekend family gatherings that resemble relaxing picnics rather than impromptu business board meetings.
- Clarifying roles and boundaries
- Discovering compatibilities and styles
- Understanding taxes and employee pay
- Having an exit strategy
- Communicating effectively
- Working day-to-day with family with friends
- Balancing family and business roles
- Handling a family crisis