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Success tips for running a family business

The saying goes, "The family that prays together, stays together." But what about families that work together? Some have been able to build successful enterprises that last for generations, whereas others fall apart from problem after problem.

You can cut out a lot of drama and increase your chances of cooperation and success by avoiding common mistakes that many family-owned and -operated businesses make. Follow these tips to keep your family and company together.

Put everything clearly in writing

In the beginning, everyone may have multiple roles and abide by family traditions. However, it is best to have everyone's official positions, responsibilities, wages and schedules in writing to eliminate misunderstanding and, therefore, reduce disputes. Write up policies and procedures (or an employee handbook) to make company rules explicit.

Separate business and home life

When you are together 24/7, it can be easy to entangle business and home life. Keeping them separate may help you be more objective for tasks such as performance reviews, promotions and hiring. It also encourages everyone to focus and show respect while on the job.

Do not feel an obligation to keep everything in the family. You can employ outsiders and seek external professional counsel for more ideas and a broader perspective. However, still keep your sense of family in the workplace. Working together can be a bonding experience that strengthens communication and connection. It can also draw in and retain customers as they witness your unity and consideration for each other.

Plan for family issues that affect the business

Unfortunately, in some areas, family and company life go together. For example, the business would be part of asset division in a divorce. Divorce is not the only event to prepare for, though. You also need a succession plan for when you pass on or want to exit the business, as well as include company assets in your estate plans. Having these things in place now makes things go more smoothly if the time comes, preventing expensive family battles.

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