How to survive in a family-run business

Pro tips for keeping it in the family.

You know what’s harder than having a disagreement with a staff member? Going home with them… because you’re married to them. Or having to see them at the family BBQ on Sunday because she’s your sister.

Running a business is hard. Running it with family can be a complete minefield. That’s not to say it can’t be done, though.

There are loads of reasons to work with family; you trust them more than anyone, your successes remain within your family, and no one knows your quirks quite like they do. So it pays to work own the relationship to ensure that – both professional and personally – everyone remains on the same team.

Managing differing opinions
Disagreeing over the flavour of tea to serve after a massage is one thing, but disagreeing over price increases, reducing staff numbers and extending business hours can get a bit…tricky. It can be hard to separate work and home but you need to be of the clear agreement that what happens at work stays at work. Argue, disagree, get frustrated – these are all part of having a business partner. What isn’t ok is making life awkward for the rest of the family while you bicker over the bottom line during your niece’s pony-themed birthday party. Leave it at work.

Is there a succession plan?
What will happen when one of you wants out? Or when you decide to step back from the coal-face and take on a more background role? Is the general agreement that the next generation will take over? This is something that needs to be clear from the outset. Does the next generation even have an interest in the beauty industry? Speak to a lawyer about get-out clauses to ensure that when the time comes to step back, the succession plan is one that works for everyone.

Do family members get priority in the recruitment process?
This is one that has the potential to tear a family business apart. If your priority is to hire the most experienced person for the role, but your business partner/family member insists on hiring their newly graduated daughter, what’s the solution? Have the conversation before you even go into business together, because your hiring processes and priorities will not only determine the culture of the salon, but will determine the overall level of service you offer.

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