By Eliana Barriga
Publisher and Managing Editor for The Retail Observer
There’s a topic of discussion that I know many independent retailers and small business owners deal with day in and day out, yet no one seems to really talk about: the challenges and benefits of working with family and friends. At the end of the day, it’s these close-knit relationships and the level of trust and loyalty formed (or not) throughout the years that will impact the state of the business at any given time.
Think about it: how can a business thrive if either the senior owner (parent) or store manager (son or daughter) is dealing with a chronic illness? Who will do the accounting if the bookkeeper is the daughter struggling with the first few months of motherhood? I am sure many family-run companies deal with issues similar to these. However, when the owner, store manager, or accountant is your family member, decisions on who should take their place or how to keep their jobs intact until they return become a little more sensitive.
As part of a family owned business, you are reminded each and every day that relationships are what matters and that humanness in business is important. Ideally, this makes us better managers and people because we can’t just fire our sibling for losing a truckload of furniture, now can we? In keeping with that spirit, we would do well to stand by our employees when they fail and celebrate them in their accomplishments. We wouldn’t schedule our top salesperson to work every Saturday when we know he’s been recently divorced and the weekends are the only time he has with his kids. We’d let our employees take time off for doctor’s appointments, birthdays, and vacations because we understand that their health, wellness and happiness will impact how much they are able to give and be present when they return to work.
So, yes, sometimes our businesses may temporarily suffer because of how closely our relationships are interwoven into them. But most of the time, these relationships are the foundation, the very reason why we flourish.
To family and friendships,