This weekend, families across the country will be gathering together to celebrate Father’s Day. Whether they’re teaching you to ride a bike, picking us up when we fall, or instilling life lessons, fathers play an important role in our society. And for many Canadians, our fathers are not only our family but our business partners too.
In Canada, family enterprises are a key economic force. They support approximately seven million jobs and account for 50 percent of the country's private sector GDP. In fact, family businesses account for roughly 63 percent of all private businesses in Canada.
Running a successful family business is no easy feat: it requires determination and grit, not to mention the patience to deal with your family members for extended periods of time. To promote the creation of more family-run businesses, and to lend a hand to those already in operation, we have compiled a list of the best tips for running a family business.
"The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, lies in its loyalty to each other." - The Godfather
Each family has their own unique style of communication, which isn’t always the greatest or most effective for a workplace setting. Break the mould and make frequent and open communication apriority in your family business. When you notice a problem with communication, address it right away. Are there bigger issues at hand? Consider engaging the services of an outside consultant.
Remember, owning a family business means that you are surrounded by people who have your best interests at heart, who will communicate openly and honestly with you. Take for example, Jeanie’s Market Bakery in Mississauga, which employs several family members. On any given day you can find Jeanie’s husband, daughter, and sisters working alongside her. Jeanie looks for a sense of dedication and loyalty, which she knows she can rely on her family members for.
Create clear and official approaches, such as meetings, to build trust, identify your business’ principles, practice transparency, and comprehend the aims and aspirations within and outside the family business. Schedule consistent meetings to review progress, voice any disagreements, and settle disputes.
"Michael: Tell me the truth. There's been a lot of lying in this family. Lucille: And a lot of love. Michael: More lies." - Arrested Development
Establishing boundaries is crucial to creating and maintaining any successful family business. Set and maintain a clear line between family and business matters. You don’t want to blur the lines between your personal and professional lives, as it distracts from the core goals of the business. By establishing clear ground rules, it allows you to have a separation in terms of what’s work and what’s personal.
Part of separating what’s personal and what’s business means separating your role in the family from your role in the business. Meaning if you’re a parent, instead of asserting your parental authority, listen to the opinions of your children and other family members. If you’re the child, don’t simply dismiss your parents’ opinions as outdated: trust their knowledge and experience. One way to make this distinction clear is in the way you converse at work. Make it clear that you are addressing a co-worker instead of a family member or friend. For example:
Right now, I need your help more as my manager than as my mother. I’m completely overwhelmed. Can you assist me in getting out of this situation?
Can we separate that we are married, and have a conversation co-owner to co-owner?
By establishing clear boundaries, you can focus on the needs of your business without straining your personal relationships.
"You can't run a business simply on charm and eccentricity." - House of Gucci
It’s important to recruit beyond just your family members and friends to avoid nepotism and to build the strongest team for your business. There are plenty of skilled workers out there, and for talent and expertise that family members lack, you can tap into this pool. If you are recruiting a family member or friend, treat the process the same as you would with any other prospective employee. Consider this: would I hire her for this position if she weren’t my sister?
Hiring outside talent and growing your team will not only allow you and your family to have better work-life balance, but will also help you capitalize on new opportunities and ideas to grow your business right. To learn more about how to attract and retain top-level talent, check out our Masterclass on the topic below.
A successful family business can be a priceless opportunity to create something extraordinary while also passing on shared ideals to future generations. At Driven, we are committed to democratizing access to the kinds of tools and deep insight typically only available to larger corporations for all Canadian entrepreneurs. We pride ourselves on empowering the small business community with the advice, knowledge, and capital solutions needed to grow and succeed.
This Father’s Day, further to simply shopping for the products you need from family-run businesses, make an effort to shout out your favourites, and share their stories on your social media platforms. Effective marketing campaigns can be costly, by using your influence you may skyrocket the awareness to buy from hardworking family-run small businesses at no cost to you. This could mean sharing their content on your social media pages, featuring them in blog posts, or guest featuring them on your podcast; anything that provides them with a bigger spotlight.
CP, S. (2018, November 21). 10essential tips for running a family business. Medium. Retrieved June 2022,fromhttps://medium.com/swlh/10-essential-tips-for-running-a-family-business-26d2de61429e
Craig-Bourdin, M. (2019, November18). Family enterprises: A Major (yet little known) sector of the economy. CPA Canada. Retrieved June 2022, fromhttps://www.cpacanada.ca/en/news/canada/2019-11-18-family-businesses-canadian-economy#:~:text=Family%20businesses%20are%20a%20major,the%20country%20are%20family%20firms.
Traub, A. (n.d.). Family business psychology: How to set healthy boundaries. EMyth. Retrieved June2022, fromhttps://www.emyth.com/inside/set-healthy-rules-in-your-family-business
Walden University. (2021, March25). Eight-tips-to-run-a-successful-family-business. Walden University. Retrieved June 2022, fromhttps://www.waldenu.edu/programs/business/resource/eight-tips-to-run-a-successful-family-business
Advice and research for Canadian small businesses from our expert team