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  • Writer's pictureTerry Dockery

Mixing Love & Money: Family Business Role Conflicts

I've often said, "There are a hundred ways to make money, but you only have one family--it would be a shame to ruin your family relationships over making a buck."

Family business drives much of the American economy. 87% of businesses are family owned or controlled, and they represent 57% of the GDP and 54% of employment. 

What could be better? You go into business with people you love and trust, and then you live happily ever after, right? 

Very often the answer is "no." I've worked with lots of family businesses, and I've discovered that it's very challenging to mix love and money and have both turn out well.

Take heart, it can be done successfully, but it takes a high level of awareness and skill. 

Your role as a family member is to love and support the other members unequivocally so you can preserve those unique relationships if at all possible. As a business leader interested in optimizing business results, your role is different. You want to care about and support your team, but you also must hold them accountable for their performance in optimizing business results. 

Here are some examples of how these potential role conflicts can play out negatively if not managed properly: 

  • A husband and wife entrepreneur team run a business together, which essentially makes them Co-CEOs (in order to preserve the 50/50 partnership of their marriage). This means they have to agree on every important business decision, and this is very time consuming. Soon they find that their marriage isn't mostly about enjoying life together anymore but instead about resolving business conflicts. 

  • A father/mother brings their son/daughter into the business. The parent role is to care about them more than the rest of the team. However, if in their business leader role the parent gives preferential treatment to the child, at least two undesirable things happen: a) The son/daughter doesn't face the challenges that would help them learn and grow to actualize their real potential. Therefore, they're always nervous about their ability to create their own success, and it damages their self-confidence for the rest of their lives. b) The business doesn't reach its full financial potential, in particular because it's difficult to attract and retain A Players when they know that advancement comes from nepotism rather than merit. 

The really good news is that you can mix love and money well, and the results can be extraordinary, i.e., you can work with people you love and trust while achieving your financial goals. 

Take the time to develop the leadership skills and relationship skills/emotional intelligence to make sure this happens. 

Don't be a stranger: (770) 993-1129,

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