Family business, the good, the bad and the ugly

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This is an archived copy of an article. It is online for informational purposes only.

I know a lot of people on the Coast here in Small Business, are also family businesses, so those relationships can sometimes be complicated further when you toss in working with your relatives. How many of us have gotten home from work and whinged and moaned about your co-worker because you were just really hacked off with them that day? Bit hard to do when the person you are whinging about, and to, is your husband business partner LOL!

Not trying to brag, but as times have gotten tougher, we have been quite lucky in our business that people can see the value for money that our sort of advertising is. The fact that we have been around so long (2002 seems so long ago now), always operated ethically and openly also has helped us, particularly when other sites have gone belly-up recently. This obviously is great for us business-wise, but family-wise, man, you really get to appreciate the commitment when you are flat out like we are at the moment, particularly when some people go on holidays, again... Yes that is you Leone, Kirsty & Pat that I am talking about? See this is the conundrum you have in a family business, you are so happy for your mum to nick off to Europe to spend a month with her other daughter for her 40th, "Way to Go Mum!". BUT, then you are stuck doing your mum's job while she is away. MYOB is not my friend, I am a charity chick, not an accounts person, and when you are busy like we have been, man, Pat being away (formerly referred to as 'mum' LOL), is no longer something your happy about.

Though having said that, I have to say I was impressed with my 15 year old daughter Caitlin, she and another teenager, Celine, do the old fashioned Saturday work to help me catch up with events and the like, and last week, they were awesome. Normally everyone complains about how teenagers nowadays are self-obsessed, irresponsible, blah blah, but you don't have to have a kid like Jessica Watson to see that quite a few are really responsible as well. I was given the opportunity to nick off to Townsville for the weekend for a friends birthday, right up until the day before I was supposed to fly out I was thinking of cancelling and stressing myself stupid about losing too much time at work and getting too far behind. Suddenly, to my surprise, Caitlin made the big call of how she could handle everything, all would be good, and not to stress. I didn't even know she was listening to the conversation. Who knew that kids 'big ears' could be good? Anyhow, the moral is that I did get away, had a great time, (believe me, doing NOTHING is seriously under-rated), and came back way more refreshed and ready to dig in and cope with the workload.

I suppose the moral of the story here is that even when you try really hard not to blur the lines between work and play in a family business, sometimes the fact that family normally care for you more than anyone else really does help to make you more successful. Even more importantly, quite often you gain new family members. For example, Leone may not be related by blood, though having worked so closely together over a period of time, you become family, you have that trust and care. Let's face it, sometimes the 'family' you acquire over time can be a lot more supportive then your 'real' family.

I know there has been an awful lot of bad news in business recently, Clive Peeters in receivership, easyfindguide going under external administration and more, though on the flipside, if you are still in business during these times you should be happy as obviously you are doing something right. What is even nicer, is being able to share that success from your hard work with your family, whether they are 'real' or not. We have a great crew here at MSC, and I am sure many of you out there, really do appreciate your family and co-staff, so maybe, have a special lunch, a few drinks after work, whatever floats your boat, just to get-together and appreciate each other.

What sort of funny things happen in your family business? Or what sort of advice do you think you could give others with your past experience of working in small business with family or friends? We are not talking experts here, we are talking about YOU, the business here on the Coast, so share your stories :)

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