When you work in a family firm, whether you are an entrepreneurial couple, or part of a business venture that includes parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, and in-laws, the most important thing to remember is that family always comes first. When I help the family get stronger, resolve their interpersonal conflicts, and help individual contributors become more authentic, the business thrives.
Other business consultants are often stymied by this reality, but I think it is a strength. For example, family first makes perfect sense when discussing succession planning. It’s a very emotional endeavor to get the next generation ready to assume the reigns of leadership. It has to be handled in a way that is respectful of the founders and their mission, but at the same time making room for the energy and new ideas of the second, or third, or fourth generation. As a psychologist, well versed in the power of family dynamics, my goal is to help entrepreneurs make this transition smoothly.
I have worked with all manner of family firms, in a variety of industries from construction, professional groups, retail, trades, even farm families. One type of family firm that I especially like to work with are entrepreneurial couples. After all, most family firms started with a “Mom and Pop” operation. I even wrote the book on these folks!
“Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home” (Order from Amazon here.)
The number of couples choosing the entrepreneurial lifestyle is growing at a phenomenal rate globally. Not only do they wrestle with supporting each other in the business, they are juggling childcare, housekeeping, and trying to keep their own personal relationships vibrantly alive. It’s a fulfilling lifestyle for many but it also creates new challenges.
As Freud said, there are two things in life that are of utmost importance to adults, Love & Work. There is no better example of how these priorities blend (and clash) than with entrepreneurial couples and families in business. Certainly this is one of the most complex of lifestyles.
As a Psychologist and Family Business consultant, “I make it one of my top priorities to help ‘copreneurs’ – married couples or life partners in business together – maneuver successfully through the unique challenges of working with your loved ones. I work with committed partners in business and life unravel the problems that cause conflict by teaching them to create seamless (not rigid) boundaries between work and home, love and business, while also helping families improve essential communication skills.”
“This year I am celebrating 25 years of owning and operating a successful business. I live a lifestyle that I never would have imagined, and am grateful each day for my good fortune. There is no doubt in my mind, that the guidance I have received from Dr. Kathy Marshack was an integral part of our success.
Debbie Rinell, Owner, Southwest Washington Learning Center