SMEs: When your business partner is a family member

The average British family has classically been understood as a nuclear family with the extended family living separately.  

Is there a difference to working relationships when family members are involved in the same business? Do you think it’s easier to work with strangers or family members? 

Family is family, yes; but also, business is business. Starting a business can be an exciting yet challenging experience. Since risks and doubts are hard to avoid when beginning a new venture, you might want people who you know and trust around you. This has its advantages and some disadvantages too. Going into business with your family members can seem like a good idea on the surface. You may feel that you can trust them more because they are simply your family, you know them, and they will support you no matter what. When it comes to money and family, mixing business and pleasure is not always a winning combination. 

This article is not to discourage you from partnering with a family member but just as you are teaming up with someone, anyone really, there are still advantages and disadvantages equated to it. So what can you expect from entering a business partnership with a family member? 


  1. High amount of comfortability – because you are used to and familiar with their attitudes and habits. 
  1. Easier decision making – in a family-run business, you can expect less political decisions. Since as a family, you may share the same values and culture that could make decision-making less difficult. There is likely to be a good atmosphere, and a dedication to the business and the role. 
  1. More than just stakeholders – They are family, they are invested, they are possibly a shareholder. Their input needs to be valued and listened to. They are not an employee that you can boss around. They are with you in good times and bad. There is a strong bond that can drive a business forwards and create strong foundations to grow from.


  1. They make break rules – as family members, they can be too comfortable to a point where they became rule-breakers. 
  1. Family Conflict – when things go bad in the business, family ties might become strained, other family members might get involved and it could have implications to the rest of the family. Family members are likely to have more emotions than non-family working partners. Emotions can cloud judgements and make some decisions harder. Then what happens if you have to sack your family member….. Let’s not go there?!
  1. Nepotism – even if it is not your intention, sometimes your love and appreciation for a family member can cause issues at work if others feel you are playing favorites.

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