Navigating the Dynamic Landscape of Small Family Businesses
If you thought going on a family vacation to Disney World was challenging, try being in business together as a family. I mean, it’s not like your dad can say, “Don’t make me turn this car around” in the middle of a board meeting. And is there an adult version of the annoying sibling playing the he’s-touching-me game during a quarterly financial report?
Running a small business can be a rewarding yet challenging endeavor, and when that business is a family affair, the dynamics take on a whole new level of complexity. Working alongside family members in a small business setting offers a unique blend of shared dreams, intimate relationships, and distinctive challenges that shape the experience into something both remarkable and demanding.
Shared Dreams and Common Goals
One of the most appealing aspects of running a small family business is the shared vision and common goals that bind family members together. Unlike traditional workplaces, where employees may not have a personal stake in the success of the business, family members are often united by a deeply ingrained desire to see their enterprise thrive. This shared commitment can foster a strong sense of unity and purpose, which can fuel determination and resilience during challenging times.
Intimate Relationships and Communication
However, the same intimate relationships that provide a foundation of trust and unity can also become a source of tension and conflict. Communication, both verbal and nonverbal, takes on a heightened significance in a family business. The lines between business matters and personal matters can blur, leading to miscommunication, assumptions, and misunderstandings. If you think about it, every family member is bringing their family-baggage, experiences, past squabbles, and experiences to day-to-day operations. Effective communication becomes essential in order to address concerns, clarify roles, and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.
Balancing Work and Family Life
One of the greatest challenges in a family business is finding the balance between work and family life. When your colleagues are also your relatives, the lines between business hours and personal time can blur. It’s important to establish boundaries to prevent burnout and maintain healthy relationships outside of work.
Conflicts are inevitable in any business, but in a family business, they can be particularly tricky to navigate. Personal emotions can intensify disagreements, making it essential to approach conflicts with empathy and a willingness to find compromise. Seeking external mediation when necessary can help preserve both the business and family ties.
The Long-Term Vision
Despite the challenges, a family-run small business can also offer long-term benefits. The ability to create a legacy, pass down skills and knowledge to the next generation, and maintain a strong sense of tradition can be immensely gratifying. The shared experiences, both the triumphs and the setbacks, weave a tapestry that binds family members together in a unique and enduring way.
The Kunes family has done just that, not only in the realm of automobiles, but also in that of RVs. RV news recently highlighted a number of family-run RV dealerships, and the Kunes family was just one of the many RV dealerships that are part of the industry. You can read about Gregg Kunes and the family members that are an integral part of the Kunes Auto and RV Group.
Being part of a small family business is a journey that’s both rewarding and demanding. It requires a delicate balance of effective communication, clearly defined roles, and the ability to navigate the complexities of family dynamics. When managed thoughtfully, a family business can become a thriving venture that not only supports financial success but also nurtures lasting bonds between family members. As long as those things stay balanced, and there is no need for mom to say, “Don’t make me come in there”, success can be shared by everyone.