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How To Make Your Family Business Work

How To Make Your Family Business Work

Everybody has come into contact with a family-run business at some point. Whether it be the local hardware store, a painting and decorating company, or your accountant, they exist in every sector.

There is no better way to pass on a legacy than to pass on your life’s work to your children. Though the questions are: is it really that simple to run a family business, and how can it be successful?

I chose to explore this issue as my sister and I are currently in a similar situation. But please note: though I will use the term family business throughout the article, the advice below applies to both businesses run by family and those run by friends, too.

Why would you want to start a family business?

So you’ve got a great idea for a business and you want to get it up and running, but you cannot do it alone. Who do you trust? Although family and friends may not have the right skills required for the job, there is already an ingrained sense of trust between you. This makes it much easier to share your ideas and research with them, and get started on building your dream. Skills can be much more readily learned than trust gained between two parties, especially at such an early stage in the development of an idea.

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From a different angle, a family business may be exactly what your relationship needs; a common ground that you can both talk about and share to build and develop a relationship that’s been drifting apart. Commercially, a family business also has a certain appeal about it. When you pop down to the local butcher and see “Michaels & Sons” over the door, you feel an instant warmth and connection towards the store. People in family-run businesses tend to value each other, their product, and their customers.

Another way family businesses can pop up is through a shared passion. You may be out having a drink, chatting away, when you both—mildly inebriated, maybe—consider the prospect of going into business together.

Hey, that’s a great idea! Why don’t we just get a little cash together, buy some stock, and just do it? It’ll be fun, and we can do it, no problem!

Many people have had a conversation similar to this but never get round to doing it, or question their optimism the day after. However, if the passion has not faded by the time you’ve recovered in the morning, then this shared motivation may be the perfect way to get the ball rolling. Having someone constantly inspiring you, and making sure you are doing what is necessary, can be a great benefit when starting out. Plus the added responsibility of another party makes the desire to succeed that little bit more important.

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There are also several logistical and financial benefits to family businesses. Family can provide you with low- or no-cost labor, helping maintain the day to day whilst allowing you to concentrate on expansion or development. Also, if ever in need of a short-term or quick loan, family or friends may be able to provide you with a low- or no-interest loan to keep you afloat. However, it is important to be careful with the latter, as these loans can make or break relationships.

What do you need to consider?

Now you have the idea, the hardest part is to put the whole thing into play. This is where the real blood, sweat, and family feuds start to take place. Be prepared for a bumpy ride because starting your own venture alone is a rocky process, and can be exacerbated by the inclusion of close ones. So, here are a few things that you should really consider:

1. Have you worked together before? Whether it be a school project a few years back, or a little charity stall to raise some money for the Scouts, if you have worked successfully and positively with the person before, that can make the whole journey a lot smoother. If you know each other’s traits, the best ways to communicate and delegate tasks, and even have complete faith in one another to deliver, it can be a huge burden of doubt relieved. If you haven’t worked together before, maybe just reflect on the last time you worked alongside someone and the issues you had or the things that worked well, in order to get an understanding of what is best for you all. If you both do something like this and go through the ideas with each other, it can lay the foundation for a healthy working relationship.

2. You clock in, you’re partners. You clock out, you’re family. This is the one that is often the hardest to overcome. In the end, you both have the desire and ambition to succeed with your idea—that’s brilliant. Though sometimes people can start to slack or lose passion. It is crucial to remember that you should be looking out for what is best for the company as well as yourselves. If you have some personal problems that crop up, make sure you highlight these and look for ways to address them: take a back seat and allow someone else to help out, or switch the tasks you do so that you can work more from home.

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However, there can come times when very difficult decisions need to be made, even to the point that considering the resignation of one member of the business, maybe even your own, is on the table. If it comes to this, it is important to highlight that it is not a personal decision and try to prevent damaging the relationship that existed prior to going into business together. This is obviously the worst situation one can be in, and hopefully you will never get into such an extreme position.

Fortunately, conflicts can often be resolved, depending on the relationship, and the ability to have such a lenient working environment can be very useful. For example, you could arrange between you flexible times of work that allow you to attend your weekly Pilates class, or pick the kids up from school.

3. Keep your finances in check. Everyone may be raring to get involved, and be adding to the investment fund to get the idea’s blood pumping. Make sure you consider not only the future of the business, but the future of yourselves. Where do your finances look to be six months, two years down the line? If the situation does not look good, then someone should probably consider a stable income external to the venture. By removing the burden of financial security from the venture, it allows for riskier growth strategies, greater flexibility within the company finances, and most importantly, peace of mind.

4. Take a break. You may be the best of friends, but there are going to be times when you need a break from each other. This is vital to retaining a healthy working and personal relationship. Perhaps schedule days where only one of you is in the office, or take a weekend away, refraining from all business calls and emails. Not only will this further develop the trust in your partner to lead and manage the venture, but it will also give you a break from each other and allow you time to reflect on other areas of your life. As much as you may enjoy the risk and reward of a venture, there are other areas of your life that need some attention, too.

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Now that you have done your homework, it is time to crack on with writing that business plan, and launching your idea. I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors, and would be pleased to hear any stories of attempts and—hopefully—success!

Featured photo credit: ThinkStock via i.huffpost.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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