My favorite place to be in the whole world is sitting around the dining room table with my family. I especially like it when we’re enjoying a meal together. But sometimes we’re talking about work. And sometimes we’re arguing about work. The lines between family and work get blurred occasionally when you run a family business.
For the past twenty-five years, my husband and I have run a small pool service business in sunny Florida. Our daughters have been involved in the business in one capacity or another. We’ve also had plenty of friends and neighbors work with us over the years. It’s been tricky at times working so closely with loved ones, but it’s definitely been worth it. There’s nothing better than sharing your everyday life with your favorite people.
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The first order of business in a family company is making sure that your favorite people stay your favorite people. Here are five tips to help make that happen:
- Mind your manners: Be kind. Be courteous. Be polite. I know this seems like common sense 101, but let’s face it: we all know, unfortunately, this isn’t always easy. We tend to take out our frustrations on the ones closest to us and the more time we spend together, the truer this may become. Take care of what’s most important. I like the way author Danielle LaPorte puts it, “Good Manners=Good Karma.”
- Speak up: If something is bothering you and you want to talk about it with the person the issue involves—do it. Think about what it is that you want to say first, but then say it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a work issue or it’s a personal issue, it’s best to clear the air. Also, when you spend a lot of time with people, you sometimes think they have the ability to read your mind. This isn’t a good strategy at work. Some tasks will either fall through the cracks while other tasks may be repeated. JUST SAY IT. OUT LOUD.
- Zip Your Lips: Then there is a time for keeping your mouth closed. Keep confidences. Don’t gossip. Don’t say something about someone that you couldn’t say in front of them.
- Timing is everything: Be conscious of time. My husband and I do our best not to talk about work issues after business hours but if we have to, we ask the other person if they mind first. If they do mind, we respect their wishes. On the flip side, quick reminders or questions are always okay. We never talk about work at any holiday or special family gatherings.
- Fun time: Even though the kids may be grown and you see each other at work, be sure to do things as a family that has nothing to do with work. Some activities we like are yoga, swimming, fishing, crafts, cooking, community events, and shopping. The ladies like girls only outings, and the guys like their sports. We take at least one long weekend trip every year– all of us together.
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When it comes to family businesses, it’s important to set healthy limits as to where your work and family life do or don’t intersect. Figuring out those limits is often a trial and error process that isn’t always easy. Of course, it’s always worth it because, ultimately, it’s all about your favorite people. Family.
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Drop a comment below letting me know if you have any other helpful tips for working with your family!
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Lisa is a mother of three lovely young women and is a new grandmother to a baby boy! She has been married to her high school sweetheart for more than thirty years. Lisa is originally from Dearborn Heights, Michigan, but has lived in the Tampa Bay area since 1984. Running a small business for over 25 years and raising a family has made for a busy, busy life with many ups and downs; it’s definitely been an adventure.
Lisa’s always involved in one project or another whether it’s work related or serving her community. She also recently went back to school to finish her bachelor’s degree in American Studies. Lisa tries to make every day a good day—that means learning something new, practicing kindness, and enjoying the present moment.