Going into business with family: Don’t be afraid of disagreements
5 min read
08 February 2017
Tricia Cusden, founder of pro-age beauty brand Look Fabulous Forever, looks back on the experience of going into business with family – specifically, her two daughters.
When I turned 65 years-old, I became frustrated with the lack of beauty products available on the market that suited my mature skin, and I became increasingly disheartened with the way the beauty industry ignored older women and did not represent our age bracket accurately.
Although I had retired, I knew I wanted a new challenge so I decided to confront this issue head on and create my own make-up range, Look Fabulous Forever, specifically for mature skin, and with a “pro-age” rather than “anti-age” ethos.
When I launched the business, I enlisted the help of my two daughters – Anna, who initially led the communications strategy for the business and now acts as managing director, and Suzy, who manages the operational side of the business.
Many would say that going into business with family members can be risky, but it has worked for us, and in fact has been very successful. I know my daughters both care about the brand and its values as much as I do, and it brings a lovely and inspiring dynamic.
Business with family members isn’t all plain sailing however, and sometimes it can pose challenges. Here, I have shared my top tips for making a family business work for all of you.
Do identify the strengths each family member can bring to the team
Whilst it is important to go into business with people who share the same mind-set as you, it can obviously only benefit the business if each of you has your own strengths. Both of my daughters offer completely different skill sets so it made good business sense to take them on as they could handle two very different, but important aspects of the business. I know they are both great at what they do, so it meant that from the outset I could just trust them to do an excellent job.
Do clarify roles and responsibilities
It’s important to be clear who does what. In the early days it was just the three of us, so it’s easy to interfere if something needs to be done not realising that someone else thought it was their responsibility. When Anna became managing director, which had been my role, we spent time with a development coach to clarify our new respective responsibilities.
Don’t be afraid of disagreements
There will inevitably be points of friction from time to time. If you know each other very well it does not need to pose a problem. It’s perfectly possible to separate your work and personal relationship. When there are disagreements we talk about our different viewpoints and find a way forward. It’s important that you listen to each other and don’t think you either know everything or are always right.
Do things officially
As the team grows it’s important that you do things officially and draw up contracts for everyone. Policy and procedures that relate to holiday entitlement, pay and appraisals etc need to be applied in a fair way. Preferential treatment should not be given to family members over non-family members.
Don’t always talk shop
When we are at work we are usually very busy getting on with our own responsibilities. Informal conversations can happen on journeys to meetings and also if we see each other socially. We have to be careful not to talk about the business all the time which can be tempting if there is a lot going on, but we try to be respectful of other family members.
Shared passion will always communicate itself to others when it comes to business with family
When its your family business, and you are all passionate about success, this enthusiasm tends to communicate itself to everyone,including your customers, suppliers and investors. They all understand that we are totally committed to building the business and ensuring that it is a huge success.
Tricia Cusden is the founder of pro-age beauty brand Look Fabulous Forever.