Ever wondered what it would be like to work with your dad? This Father’s Day we’re talking to the guys that have built Square Cow Movers into a successful father-son operation to get their thoughts on how to turn a family bond into an amazing business partnership.
Celebrating and Sharing Successes with the People That Matter Most
A business coach once told Wade Lombard, his brother-in-law, Derek Mills, and father that it was important for them to set goals and celebrate when those goals are met. While this is important advice for any business owner or professional, it’s an added bonus when the people you are sharing the success with are your family members. “There is just something there that’s really unique and special about building with your dad and brother whether it’s a model plane, home project or a business,” said Wade. Celebrating the success you achieved together makes it all the more sweet.
Be Strict About Not Mixing Business in with Family Time
Seeing each other day in and day out on a professional basis can be tricky for family members. “It’s much more difficult to take a break from the business,” says Derek. “We see each other constantly inside and outside of work. It sometimes makes it harder to turn the switch off and leave work at work.” Constant contact can sometimes be challenging, but that doesn’t mean family time should suffer. Birthdays, holidays and other family events should be a time to really enjoy eachother’s company, not another opportunity to talk shop.
The guys at Square Cow Movers are diligent about not mixing business with pleasure, although it’s harder to do during the busy summer season. Derek adds that, “I think we’ve gotten a lot better at this over the years, but its definitely still a struggle at times. Especially when we are in the middle of making a big decision or going through some sort of change.” Family time should be a no business zone whenever possible. Calls from an employee or client happen, but try not to let it start a full-on business meeting in the middle of a family event.
Keep the Business Relationship Professional
Along those same lines the crew at Square Cow Movers keep their business hats on when they are at work. When they’re on the clock they are very straightforward, honest and to the point because transparency is important to the success of the business. In their off time the relationship is far more relaxed and personal.
Wade explains that it’s important to understand that you’ll likely have two very different relationships with the family members that you work with. He notes that, “it’s strange to have a relationship with two people where the pendulum swings so far depending on the setting,” but it’s necessary to keep both relationships healthy. Derek also noted a surprising benefit that working with his father-in-law and brother-in-law “I didn’t consider how much better I would get to know them. I think we have better relationships with each other and know a lot more about them than I would otherwise.”
You Understand Each Others Strengths and Weaknesses Which Can be a Big Advantage
In business you don’t have to be a mirror image of your partners to find success. Often the exact opposite is true, and different personality types can compliment each other. This is the case for the guys at Square Cow Movers. Because of their close relationship, they fully understand each other’s strengths and how they can be put to best use. You just need to be honest and upfront about what each person brings to the table and how they make up for what the others may lack.
Derek suggests that other business owners, “try to understand that you are different and each person has different strengths and weaknesses as well as a different viewpoint on many things. This can be very challenging at times, but it will also be the companies greatest strength if you learn to take advantage of it.”
The Spouse Factor
All family businesses are different, but Square Cow Movers has made a conscious decision not to involve spouses in the work affairs. It can quickly lead to family members siding with one business partner over another and that just isn’t fair. It goes back to the rule of keeping family and business separate, because the business relationship is entirely different than how you interact as relatives. So far, says Wade, “this has been a huge part of our culture and we haven’t regretted it in any way.”
A family business isn’t always easy to run and it can make things awkward at times, but the rewards can far outweigh the temporary drawbacks. As long as you can keep things in perspective and understand that the work dynamic is completely separate from the family structure there’s a good chance that you’ll get to celebrate success with the people that matter most.