written on: July 29, 2013
Categories: Adventure Tourism
Everything's personal when family and friends go into business together. And that's (mostly) a good thing, several business owners say
Business school professors and financial advisers lecture about the pitfalls of family run companies. John Davis, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, echoes a common sentiment when he says, "Too often, family firms employ dysfunctional and short-sighted approaches to handle tensions."
While research supports this view, family businesses can flourish, as evidenced by these three stories:
From Freshman's Lament to Thriving Business
When children go off to college, it typically means unraveling at least a few strands of family ties. When Amanda Zuckerman went to college, she created an entirely new strand: she launched a business with her mother.
Amanda and Karen Zuckerman own Dormify.com, an online decor store inspired by Amanda's frustration in trying to find stylish linens and wall hangings for her freshman quarters at Washington University.
Both the mother-daughter bond and business partnership have thrived. Dormify, launched in beta in 2011, has been featured in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Seventeen and Teen Vogue.
Family Ties and Apron Strings
Jared Young understood the risks of entering business with his wife.
"These types of models are generally feared by many, as a partnership in itself can be an extremely complex relationship, but to then add the relational layer of marriage, or in other words, a partner that knows your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else on the planet…well, you begin to get the picture."
But Young says the business model has worked well for him and Nancy, with whom he owns Appetizing Aprons. Each brings balance to the other.
"My wife loves fashion and serving others. She has an eye for what people love and can immediately identify the needs of people. I, on the other hand, have a natural gift for finance and technology. So what happens when you add fashion plus serving others plus technology plus finance and a mutual love for entrepreneurship? You get a technology driven business (ecommerce) that thrives on fashion and serving others and you get a partnership that works."
Map Out a Strategy
Sean Rollinson, marketing manager of family-run Escapes.ca, an online travel company, says working with the people you love can be fun and rewarding if "rules are in place, roles are clearly defined and discussion remains professional."
He said rules are particularly important when non-family members are employed at a company.
"It may be easy for an employee to make a suggestion or complaint to their boss about another employee, that changes completely if the employee lodging the suggestion or complaint has to do it to a person's family member," Rollinson said.
Rollinson said the rewards outweigh the challenges and the decision to merge business and pleasure "has certainly worked out well for us."
Author Katherine Kotaw
Guest Blogger via Business Marketing & The Blog