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The Pros and Cons of Starting (or Joining) a Family Business

Like there are two sides to every story, there are also two sides to every family business. The beautiful, harmonious side and the dark side.

The most recent headline centered around a family business displays a prime example of the dark side. And each member of the family, business, and community has their perspective and side of the story.

Timothy Norman and his mom, Robbie Montgomery – who is the owner of Sweetie Pies- starred in the reality television show, Welcome to Sweetie Pies on the OWN Network.

Norman is under fire after being arrested and charged with orchestrating a murder for hire plot with his nephew, Andre Montgomery.

This latest news along with many of the twists and turns that took place during the days of the series showed the ugly side of a family business that stemmed from selfishness, greed, and lack of unity.

If any similar story has turned you off from starting or joining a family business, don’t give up just yet. It’s possible to have a beautiful journey of building, growing, and prospering with family.

Listen to this episode as I share the pros and cons of collaborating with family on business ventures.

More details on the Sweetie Pies story:

Mother and daughter who successfully operate multiple businesses:

Danielle Towner | Entrepreneur + Digital Creative Resources

Danielle (0s): My whole family has been in the business. My whole family is crazy. Now that quote from Blake Lively – I’m not sure the angle that she was coming from because she’s an actress, so I’m not sure what type of family business or what type of business she was discussing, but I can relate. And I’m sure everyone can relate to the second part of that quote that says my whole family’s crazy.

Danielle (30s): So everyone has those moments where they feel like the whole family is crazy.

0 (30s): And I say that every family has certain level of dysfunction and it’s not like to say it in a negative way, but you know, it’s just everybody every family has their moments and has, you know, those moments of healing in the process. But today we’re talking about family business. So a lot of people like to go into business with their family or come up with ideas for businesses that you can do as a family.

0 (1m 3s): And its for good reason are for a good intention in the beginning, but it doesn’t always turn out good. And sometimes it does. And we’ll talk about that more in a second, but today I wanted to kind of help you if your on the fence about, if you’re just starting an idea or you’re on the fence about bringing family into your business or building a partnership with family or a family business that is already established, if you’re a kind of decided whether you want to be a part of it, there are some pros and cons to it all.

0 (1m 38s): So what I want to do today is discuss some of the pros and cons and help you sort out this question of should you or shouldn’t you go into family business. So keep listening so we can talk about it.

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0 (2m 4s): Welcome back for another episode of Dreamer’s Den Podcast I’m Your host Danielle Towner. And if you’re joining us for a second, third of umpteenth time, thank you for coming back and listening. And if your with us for the first time, I help entrepreneurs do their brand awareness and online presence through website design, content marketing and digital products. My company is Dream Work Creatives and I’ve been blessed to have established a lot of experience over the years, but I just kind of officially revamped my business and launched it last year.

0 (2m 45s): So I’m just grateful for that and for almost 10 years in this online business thing overall, but enough about me. Let’s talk about the topic of discussion today, the triumphs and tragedies or you know, things that can come from going into family business. So let’s briefly talk about some family businesses that have been yet in the headlines lately. Now one of those is Sweetie Pies and if you remember a few years back, there was a show on the Own Network called Welcome to Sweetie Pies where they follow that business.

0 (3m 24s): A family owned restaurant. Well, the restaurant was owned by Robbie Montgomery, who used to be one of The Ikettes, and she was in the entertainment industry, but now she’s in the restaurant business. And so her son became involved in the business and you can kind of see from the show that he really wanted to be heavily involved. More involved than she wanted him to be and that kind of caused some drama in the family business.

0 (3m 56s): And she also hired a lot of her other family members, her nephews, and you know, siblings. Different people like that, but that’s kind of an onscreen example of family businesses. The challenges that can come with it, as well as some of the good moments. And there are other, you know, examples. A lot of people put their business or their you know, people in the music industry or just in different family businesses all around.

0 (4m 31s): They end up putting it on the screen in reality shows for you to see those things. And of course, you know, we know that a lot of the things in reality TV aren’t real and a lot of it is scripted, but at the surface of it like some of, you know, many of those story lines come from the content or a car from the dirt, that they give. Let’s talk about the latest headline with this family. So basically during the show, the grandson of Robbie Montgomery was murdered and it’s just coming out and our post this link in the comments so you can see it, but it’s just coming out that Timothy Norman, Robbie Montgomery’s son is a suspect or basically, he has been arrested for a murder for hire scheme and getting Andre Montgomery killed, getting him murder.

0 (5m 25s): So there’s a link that also says that the new information has come out that Andre was a suspect in $200,000 cash that was taken from Robbie Montgomery’s home. And some of that, like with the money coming up missing, that was on the show as well. That was a lot that happened during that time. So that’s just kind of one example of a lot of drama that can happen in family business. Robbie Montgomery’s son, Tim, he was always coming up with these expansion ideas and she wanted him to slow down.

0 (6m 1s): He wanted to move fast and there are articles showing that there was a lawsuit. She ended up suing him for trademark infringement when he opened some of these businesses without her permission. And I’ve heard many different stories, like a lot of drama comes with family business and that’s on any level, like even when they are not in the spotlight. Like I’ve heard many stories about mismanagement of the money or stealing money. And this is even with local businesses.

0 (6m 34s): Even like, I’ve had friends who have been in family business and there was drama and rivalry. And like people claiming that they weren’t paid fairly or that the money wasn’t being distributed properly. Like all of those things can come up. But then with that, there’s also like beautiful stories. There’s also a beautiful side of things where there are success stories where people like pool together their resources and work together and they help each other expand.

0 (7m 7s): Like they continue working together until each person is able to have basically their own peace of the pie. Their own piece of the dream until they can take care of their own families. There are beautiful family business stories where people really do take care of each other and have each other’s best interests at heart. I want to talk about, I want to share with you the pros and cons of starting a family business, like a little bit of that beautiful, and that dark side to kind of helped you make the decision and see if it’s worth it for you.

0 (7m 45s): If this is something that you want to do. And then at the same time, like I want to give you some tips that can help you. Like if you’re planning or considering going into a family business. You kind of have to take some of the lessons from working with people who aren’t blood related and kind of plug that in there to see how that works, but we’ll talk about that. Let’s talk about the pros of being a part of a family business or starting a family business.

0 (8m 15s): So the first pro I would say is that the business revenue is recirculating within the family. And so that’s something that we kind of just talked about, how people pulled together, their resources, they work and they build, and they get a system in place to where those funds are basically recirculating , like they are staying within the family. And it’s just like people tell you to do like, to build a strong economy within your culture so that you have some leverage, you have some power, you have a voice, you have a say so, and your feelings, your opinion, your votes matter.

0 (8m 53s): It’s an economic thing. When you recirculate it within a family, that family becomes powerful and they have a name for themselves, especially if you’re doing things the right way. The business revenue is recirculating within the family and you are helping each other to expand and grow. That’s a pro. Number two, a certain comfort or a trust comes from business partners being within the family circle.

0 (9m 22s): And you have like a bond, like a family bond. You have a common interest that you are going towards and it’s something else for you to bond over, you know, within a family. Like every family has their culture, they have their certain traditions and their certain lingo and swag and things like that. And like businesses can become another part of that. Just something that you have to bond over. If these are people who are family members that you been around since you been in diapers, that is kind of different from someone that you’re just hiring off the streets and are just partnering with and you don’t have that bond or that relationship with them.

0 (10m 8s): So there’s a certain level of comfort and you kind of can take off that representative mask that I was telling you about in previous episodes, and just shed everything and be completely yourself. Number three, you have an opportunity to build something awesome that you can pass on. That can be part of your legacy. Part of the legacy that you pass on and that can go down from generation to generation. And we have seen that happen over and over again, like I said, with certain names, like, you know that name because they built that brand, they built it together and it’s something that they’ve been passing on through generations.

0 (10m 53s): Number four, a family business or going into the family business and motivates you to put in the work. There is something different and special about working with and working together towards a common goal with people that you really love, and you want their best interests, you have their best interests at heart. So if you have a different level of motivation to put into work and to get it done in, to see it through and to reach these goals, you know, achieve these goals and have something to celebrate together.

0 (11m 28s): Number five, you widen your networking opportunities and you kind of, when you think about it at the surface, it’s like, well, how can do that if you’re all a family and you all know each other? But the pending on their family structure, like everybody doesn’t know everybody that other family members know, everybody hasn’t been everywhere that all of the family member’s have been. You know, it could be spread out among different geographic locations.

0 (12m 1s): So these are people like you can tap into each other’s network in each other’s markets and that’s even more opportunity to grow and expand the business beyond just if you were doing it yourself or just you and a random partner or you and a friend, you have your whole family with their whole network and their whole warm market to be a part of this business.

0 (12m 33s): Number six, family business can be fun and its fun because you know, some of the things we mentioned. You already know these people, you have people that you’re close to, you all have your certain culture and your traditions, and you know, the way that you do things, the things that are funny to you, the way you laugh, and you can incorporate that into business. Into the story that you tell us about business and how you got started. And just into, you know, your every day activities with getting things done, doing it as a family can make businesses.

0 (13m 6s): But let’s go to the flip side of some of these and talk about the cons of starting business as a family or doing business as a family. Number one, the drawback would be that some people may feel entitled. So here’s where these egos come in. Some family members may feel like they deserve certain things. They deserve certain titles. They should or shouldn’t have to do certain things.

0 (13m 39s): And that can cause division among everybody. Number two, trust may enable leniencies that hurt the business. So because that certain level of trust are a comfort is there, you may be less structured or you may be more lenient on them than you would be a regular employee that’s not family. And it can cause things to fall by the wayside. They may not do the be responsible or do the things that they should do because you are assuming they’ll do it because they’re a family and they’re going to look out and they don’t.

0 (14m 15s): Number three, some partners or family employees may not be qualified and that can hinder the growth of the business. So if you’re just bringing on people into the business or bringing on family employees just because they’re family, and they are not qualified to do the job, they don’t know what they’re doing, they are not trainable, then you’re only hurting the business.

0 (14m 45s): You think that you are helping this person out, but you are hurting the business. And you can hurt everyone involved in the business because there are not going to be able to do the job, things aren’t going to get done, customer service suffers, the business reputation suffers, and so on and so on. Number four, there could be conflicts when everyone has their own views and their own way. If everyone’s not on the same page. And if there is a hundred million voices versus one voice of the business, then there could be conflicts.

0 (15m 22s): And those conflicts could show within the business if everyone is trying to do their own thing. That can also spill over into family moments and family of events. So basically, you got a conflict going on or you got a discrepancy or something is wrong in business. And then, you go to the family reunion, or you go to the family cookout, you go on a cruise or, you know, you go to grandma’s house and y’all arguing about something that happened at work. Or you know, you’re still mad about something that happened at work and you not talking to this person because of that.

0 (15m 58s): And it’s during family time. And this is even, this can even go to like, just in the immediate family household. Like if it’s a husband and wife who is working together, it can cause the breakdown of the family because of conflict in business. Number five, younger generations may feel pressure to join the business or to meet a certain level of excellence. So I’ve seen this over and over again, and it’s even like, you know, it can be something like an attorney’s office of a physician practice, or just any type of business where it’s like, Oh, we started this business at such and such time.

0 (16m 41s): And my dad did it and I did it and my son is going to do it too. Well, he may not want to do that. He may want to do something else. He may want to detach from the family name and try something different. Or if he does decide to be a part of the family business. You know, he may not feel adequate or he may feel pressured to be just as good as you were at it, but you’re the one who started the business from the ground up and you know, everything. Those are the feelings that younger generations may have.

0 (17m 13s): Number six, business could be too much fun. So if business is too much fun, it’s going to be all play and no work. And that’s going to cause a breakdown of the business. It can be a distraction from getting things done and meeting that goal and it may cause a failure of the business. Those are some of the pros and cons that you have to look at and you have to think about when you’re thinking about your plans to start a family business, to partner, to join.

0 (17m 47s): But there are some things that you can take from these pros and cons that if you plan it, know, if you do it right, or if you consider these things at all times, then you can find success and have that beautiful business storyline that we talked about versus the ugly one. So here’s some things that can help you, like if you’re planning or considering a family business. Number one, you know, I always say and I’m always going to continue to say, is to plan.

0 (18m 19s): Like, just because it’s a family business, y’all are doing this together and this person can do this and this person can do that. And ya’ll putting it together, that doesn’t mean you skip the plan and you just started doing it. Because that’s gonna break down other things like communication and the expectations that we talked about before. So makes you start with a business plan, a marketing plan, a financial plan. Number two, communicate and by communicate it means that you need to be transparent.

0 (18m 54s): You need to be open about some of those things. The plans, the expectations, the status of where you are, the growth, how you, if you’re reaching those milestones. And you need to let people have their voice at all levels, if they’re invested in this business. That’s how it is in a business that’s not family. You allow people to express themselves and you take into consideration what they have to say. Now, that doesn’t mean that everything’s gonna be done everyone’s way all the time because that’s impossible, but you still need to let people express themselves or possibly have a vote on those things, but nothing is gonna work if there is a breakdown in communication.

0 (19m 40s): And that’s even, you know, talking things out to make sure that there are no conflicts. Number three, have some, none bias, third parties included. And so that is so that when it is a decision time, when there is time to make decisions on things, you have expert opinions, you have an expert documentation and you have somebody who is not just gonna take one person’s side because they have no interest there in either, taking on either side.

0 (20m 17s): You can have someone who takes a poll or takes the votes. You can have attorneys, accountants, financial advisors. Have a counselor, a family counselor or just a counselor or a trustworthy spiritual advisor. So that things don’t get out of hand. And like I said, they don’t have an interest in taking anyone’s side, but everyone is able to communicate and try to come to a happy medium about things. Number four, is very important and that is to compartmentalize.

0 (20m 50s): Of course, us being human beings, we can’ just pretend like we don’t have feelings about things, but you know, you have to be able to leave work and business at work and business and don’t take it into a family business or don’t take it into, don’t take it into a family time. Don’t take it into family events. Don’t take it into those things and ruin those special moments and making those memories.

0 (21m 21s): So compartmentalize, like leave it where it is until it’s time to go back. And of course that can be very hard to do, but that’s one of those things where you kind of have to look at it as if, okay, how would I handle it if this wasn’t my best friend or if this wasn’t my mom or my cousin or my sister? Like how would I handle this and how would I make it through until it comes time to pick this issue back up and resolve it? So that’s one of those moments where you have to look at that, but you have to

Danielle (21m 54s): learn how to compartmentalize. Number five,

0 (21m 57s): evaluate strengths and weaknesses and allow or accept those roles accordingly. Like we talked about before, like don’t just hire somebody because they’re your cousin or your family, any type of family member. You have to take this seriously because it can make or break the business. It can mean the difference between survival, thriving or just flopping. So, you know, look at where they are. What they’re strong at. You can’t, the leader can’t be the leader just because he wants to be the leader.

0 (22m 30s): Like what leadership skills you do you have to qualify you as the leader. Just look at that across the board and all of the areas that are needed. Some people have to be humble enough to say, okay, you know, I’m not good at this. This person is so, you know, I shouldn’t be in this position. That is all I have about family business. I hope this has made your decision or your planning a little bit easier. And I hope it’s given you some things to think about, to meditate on and let it marinate.

0 (23m 5s): If you have any questions or just your opinion, or if you want to just wait in on either way like the pros and cons or what people can do to help make their family business relationships better, you can do that by pressing record if you’re listening from Anchor and sharing your thoughts, or you can post your thoughts in the comments. If you are on the website. The comments are below the notes if you scroll down.

0 (23m 38s): And as always, I am, I’m at @dreamworkcreatives on all of the social media platforms. So you can follow there and we can chat there. I hope this has been helpful, entertaining, or some of both. Thank you guys for listening. And as I always say Dream Until your Dreams Come True

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The Pros and Cons of Starting or Joining a Family Business

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As owner of Dream Work Creatives, LLC, Danielle has the opportunity to use her gifts of business development and creative expression. She has a passion for helping solo entrepreneurs and small businesses make their dreams work through marketing and creative strategy. Danielle’s digital marketing services have helped countless businesses build their brand awareness and online presence using social media marketing, website design and content marketing. Her blog features business and lifestyle growth tips and “Dreamer’s Den Podcast: Entrepreneurs Making the Dream Work”. During her free time, she enjoys travel, movies, books and the endless joy of her little one.