How Do You Make Decisions Between Family and Business Interests?

Business Leader Post, October 1, 2012

Thomas D. Davidow, Ed.D.

Most people would answer that it depends on the situation. The problem with that way of thinking is that making a family driven decision can compromise the business while making a business driven decision can have an impact on a family member or a reaction by the family for which you are not prepared.

It is more effective to make decisions that have a coherency in terms of what is best for the business as well as what is best for the family, i.e. decisions that are aligned with the goals and the vision for both the family and the business.

The first step to developing a thought process for integrating business decisions with family decisions is to establish a Family Business Mission Statement along with a list of values that can be incorporated by both systems. The research suggests that having a coherent set of values and culture for both the family and the business is the key to longevity. In Jim Collin’s book Built to Last, a study of over 20 companies that have lasted over decades, the author points out that the key attribute for those businesses is their ability to hold on to the culture of the original founder/family.

When confronted with a situation that seems to demand that you put either your family or your business first, refer to your mission statement and your core values. The answer lies there.