Quick Tips

Quick Tip: Family Business Success

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Think Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway, Facebook even. What do they have in common? Sure, they’re all large corporations, but they’re also successful family businesses.

Family business can get a bit hairy. It’s that mix of personal and professional. You know what makes the other tick. Sometimes you don’t trust one another. Your teens or your nieces and nephews might be spending all their time surfing on your Windstream internet, not lifting a finger for work. And, of course, family dynamics will come into play.

So it may be of no surprise that fewer than one in four family businesses have lasted more than three generations, according to this PwC survey in 2017.

The key? Setting some boundaries. Here are some places our Windstream Small Business team think you can start to ensure your small business runs like a well-oiled machine.

1. Delegate Responsibilities

Who’s doing what? This includes identifying who will be making business decisions. Will you use a democratic process where each family member gets a vote, and if so, what happens when everyone is split? Will you, as the small business owner, make sole decisions?

And say you have two, three, four employees — whether some or all are family — lay out the roles and responsibilities that come with each of their job titles. Hold their feet to the fire, too: make sure that they are actually following through with the duties assigned to them and that others aren’t carrying another employee’s burden.

You already know each other — including strengths and weaknesses. Use that information to play to your employees’ strengths (read: put them in positions where you know they will excel.)

2. Document, Document, Document

So you’ve made all these decisions — who’s doing what, what are the hours of operation for your small business, what days and hours will your employees work, how much each person will get paid. What now? Put it all in writing. That way, you’ll have a paper trail to fall back on should any conflicts arise. Here are some things your small business could put in writing today.

3. Use Conflict Resolution Tactics

Let’s face it. There are going to be disputes. And because you’re all kin, they can escalate really fast. How do you de-escalate? Conflict resolution. Forbes has five key steps of dealing with conflict at work. In short, identify the problem you have with an employee. As an example, John Doe hasn’t turned in a report due last Friday. State the problem, and keep things positive by using “I” not “you” statements. Using the same scenario, according to Psychology Today, “I am getting backed up and feeling a little stressed because I don’t have that report yet.” Then, brainstorm and come to a mutual solution.

4. Have a Succession Plan

Who is going to take over when you tap out? What happens if you have more than one child who could take the reins? What if you don’t think your own children are interested or qualified? About one in every three family businesses have no succession plan at all, and even fewer — less than one-fourth of family businesses — have a plan in writing of which all stakeholders are aware, according to the 2017 PwC survey. Put together a plan, and, as the National Federation of Independent Business says, choose your successor(s) on “merit,” not “inherit." PwC recommends that family businesses include succession planning — which includes more than within strategic planning.

You all have a common goal of wanting to see the business prosper, so just remember you’re all in it together!

Try out these tips to help your company become a successful family business, and remember to augment the technologies that make your small business run smoothly, too. Windstream Small Business can help support your company with phone, high-speed internet and cloud-based services that are designed to meet the needs of the ever-changing business environment.

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