How to Work With Family in Business (and Not Hate Each Other)

I’ve seen lots of meltdowns between family members who work together over the years.

On my own team, I have my sister-in-law, my niece, and with some trepidation I started working with my son a few years ago.

The attached video gives you some insight into how he and I have handled that relationship.  And here are some ideas for you if you’re in a family business:

Family harmony is more important than business results

This is controversial if you’re an achiever.    The reason I say this is because without family harmony you won’t get business results!

You have a business for the family.  You don’t have a family so you can run a business.

Pay based on role, not love

Here’s why communism doesn’t work:  They say:  From each according to ability, to each according to need.  Don’t be communists.  Pay fairly.

Communism doesn’t work  because it assumes that people are motivated to help the collective.  Capitalism works because it allows each person to benefit from their own work.  Taking away people’s incentives isn’t smart IMHO.

Don’t talk business outside of work

Have some boundaries.  This helps those that aren’t part of the business who might feel left out, and also helps you have a relationship that isn’t only based on work.

Don’t report to family

If possible, report to someone other than a family member.  It makes everything a whole lot easier.

Keep it professional

No one refers to me as ‘uncle’ or ‘dad’ at work.  I’m Trevor.  Outside work I’m those other things, but at work I’m just another guy who has a role like everyone else.

My life has only been enhanced with family members working with me.  They share my values.  They’re awesome people!  We have a natural connection that others don’t have.

If you follow some of these rules, your chances of having a nice Christmas as well as a good business go up dramatically.

Getting ahead is about getting started!

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Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at

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