This week I attended a meeting with clients who needed some help and guidance in working with each other. There was a Mother, Father, Son & Daughter-in-law all trying to run the business and make it successful, but as we know living with family can be tricky at times let alone working with them.
It is quite often that we start a business on our own; things get busy so our partners help us. Maybe eventually our children start working for us and then after time they look at taking over the business. This is a familiar story, but how do we handle this? How do we work with our family without it tearing us apart?
I have written my 5 top tips to working with family and have listed them below for you to read over and see if you could implement them into your family business.
1. Work out what you want to achieve
You need to look at the end results. What is it you are wanting? Does everyone need to work on accounts? Or do some of you need to be doing operational work? Who if any are the technicians? Do all of you need to know everything that happens? Or is it ok to just know what your role is?
2. Define roles
Once you have worked out what you want to achieve you then need to define your roles, let’s just say you have decided that you all need to have a role in the accounts – like perhaps the following:
Person A – Stock Control & Purchasing of Stock
Person B – Invoicing & Debtor Control
Person C – Purchase, expenses & Creditor Control
Person D – Payroll, Bank Reconciliations & ATO Compliance
You now need to work out what these roles ‘look like’…
Person A – do they understand how to use the stock/inventory part of your software package? – are all the par levels set for ordering? How often do you order the stock? What happens when you receive stock?
Person B – How often do you invoice? At what stage of the job do you invoices? Do you send statements? How many days is your trading terms? What do you do to collect outstanding monies?
Person C – Once the bills are given to you from the stock section or the person who opens the mail, when do you enter them? How do you enter them? How do you reconcile supplier statements? When do you reconcile supplier statements? Do you pay the bills or does someone else? How do you work out what bills are to be paid?
Person D – How often is payroll processed? How do you track staff times? How are the staff paid? When do you do bank reconciliations? Weekly? Monthly? What work is required from everyone else before you can reconcile? How often is your BAS? Do you also have to do an IAS? When is superannuation lodged? Monthly? Quarterly? Do you pay payroll tax? FBT?
3. Put the roles and definitions in writing
This may take a while, but I highly suggest you do it… after you have had your meeting and worked out the above two points, you need to put it all in writing and give all members of the family a copy… you don’t want to just agree on it and then work the system for a few months only to have one member ‘forget’ their role and what is required of them and start doing something that one of the other family members should be doing. This causes friction and tension which could quite easily be avoided if it was all in writing. If you had it in writing you could have a family meeting and point out that you all agreed that this was what each person was going to be doing and work out why the family member had decided to do something else. It could be that they thought it was ‘easier’ to just do that as well as what they were doing.
4. Respect each other
Once you have all agreed on what your role and responsibilities are it is really important to respect each other and stick to your role. Sometimes you may feel that you could do the task much better or more efficiently, but it isn’t your task and you agreed in the family meeting that the other person should be doing that role. All your hard work with the initial meeting, agreeing on roles and then putting them in writing would go to waste if at this stage you didn’t stick to the agreement.
5. Regularly Review
Our businesses change all the time, they get busier, some get slower, or more streamlined as we implement systems etc. There may be new technology on the market or new computer programs that make things easier. Whatever the case may be, if you don’t review your roles regularly you may find that tension will build and people may start to resent other family members and they don’t believe they are working ‘as hard’ as themselves. Or things may change within the family, a divorce or a new baby or children starting/leaving school etc. etc. Whatever the situation is it can affect your business greatly, so I would strongly suggest that you review your roles and responsibilities every 6 months (12months at the very most). This way you keep on top of changes and can implement things fast and without much disruption.
My Question to you is: – what have you implemented within your family business to successfully work together?