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Many families share personal goals, so working together in a family business might seem like the ideal way to achieve them. 
From personal experience I know the benefits and the challenges of working with family members. Certainly, working with your nearest and dearest every day can bring some stresses to the workplace and home life – sometimes the boundaries can become blurred. 
Here are my top six practical tips for family businesses. 
1. Don’t let the stress build up 
Pressure at work and at home sometimes doesn’t have anywhere else to go when you run a family business. You might be trying hard not to bring work worries home or vice versa, but we all need to let go of stress. Address stressful situations as soon as you can and try to resolve them as quickly as possible. Ideally, deal with work stresses at work and home concerns at home. 
2. Be formal 
Your home life might be casual and flexible and if someone forgets to put the bins out it might be annoying but won’t create major problems. At work you will need to be more formal and it’s best to write down and agree what each person will be responsible for. This will make sure everything is covered and, most importantly, will avoid duplication and frustration when two or more people are trying to do the same thing. Setting clear goals for your family business and defining responsibilities, roles, and boundaries will help everyone to stay focussed and to resolve any disagreements. 
3. Be professional 
It’s important to get the balance right between your personal life and your business role. Because of the personal connection disagreements can become emotional and this can quickly escalate and become unprofessional. You don’t have to pretend to be strangers, but you are at work and will need to briefly step away if things become too heated and ideally have some ground rules to resolve issues if they arise. 
4. Be open with your team 
If you have employees they will be well aware of the family relationships and if you pretend they don’t exist it won’t help to create a secure working environment. You can set some ground rules if you wish so that your private life can remain private. However, it’s also important to make everyone aware that they can raise issues or concerns. 
5. Deal with strengths and weaknesses 
If you’re going to run a successful business then you will want everyone to be working to their strengths. If someone isn’t doing the right things in the right way you can’t ignore it because you are related to them. If necessary you might need to make some strategic decisions about changing some responsibilities and roles. 
6. Be organised 
As well as agreeing specific roles, you also need clear work processes so that you can work together effectively. You will need to decide who leads during client meetings, pay each person a fair salary for the work they do, and even have specific job titles. This should also include recognising specific boundaries such as when you will go to work (even if you work from home) and when you will stop. 
At Andromeda Business Consulting I work with many family run businesses. Often we start by working through the GAP Program, which is the ideal time to set clear personal and business goals. 
Please get in touch if you would like to know more. 
Until next time ... 
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