How involved should I get my family in my new business?
I’ve wanted to clear divisions between work and family time, but I’m finding it hard because I don’t really have anyone to let off steam to. What’s the best approach?
Congratulations on your new business and I hope that it is incredibly successful. It’s an exciting time!
If your question is about how much business information you share with family, I can relate!
Since I formed The Heat Group 12 years ago (and even before then when I was in corporate life), I have always included my family in my business life. I felt this had so many benefits to me and to them, and am happy to share these with you.
Opening up and being able to discuss business issues with family can be a good outlet, particularly if your family give you good feedback and great ideas.
I was constantly surprised by the insights that my family had about my business and how helpful they were in putting things in perspective – sometimes you can get so caught up in what is happening that you miss key points.
I also feel it is great for your relationship with your family to let them know they are contributing to your success and that you value their input.
This also supports a key business philosophy that I have and we try to embrace at Heat, which is “respect and value each other’s differences”.
Even young children have good insights and creative ideas. I am also fortunate that my husband is very different to me and so his view was usually quite “ left field” and, dare I admit it, most often very helpful!
I have also tried over the years to have my family included in decisions for the business (e.g. should we invest $X in this and if we do, the consequences will be Y).
This way, my family were educated about business and felt involved. Even if they didn’t have the knowledge to contribute, it was important to make them feel like they did, and over time their contributions will become more and more useful.
Just warn them to be discreet if they visit your office and ensure you always clearly communicate to them the boundary in regard to confidential information.
In terms of challenges and the need to “let off steam”, whilst this is sometimes necessary, you should keep in mind just how much information you reveal about your problems, as you don’t want to transfer any stresses onto them unnecessarily.
And sometimes if they don’t have the big picture, they may interpret your problem as a critical one and worry, which would not be good for you or them.
As I also recognise the need to vent and to seek help, it might be useful to find a mentor or business peer group that you can meet and discuss business issues with.
I have had mentors and am also a mentor to others and find this is a great way to gain knowledge, as well as productive and useful suggestions on how to deal with challenges.
Consider opening up to family in stages, so you can see how they react and how you feel.
This will help you determine how open you want to be about your business, if the work/life balance is working for you and also help you identify those family members who might be a good ear to bounce things off.
Remember that they may not want to listen to your business ramblings every dinner, so it would be good to ask them for feedback too.