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All in the family

Going into business with family members may be an ideal set-up, but there are challenges you have to anticipate.
By Romelda C. Ascutia |

Putting up a family enterprise seems the perfect set-up: You get to bond and spend more time with your loved ones as you work long hours together, and family members are often strongly motivated to ensure that the venture succeeds. Because they all have a stake in it, they are spurred to make greater personal sacrifices and work more passionately than their non-related counterparts.


The caveat: It’s not quite as easy as you imagine it to be. Family enterprises can run into unique issues that don’t occur in non-familial businesses. David Javitch in his business article, When Family Members Work Together, discuss some of these issues:

  • Birth order. Kuya or ate might insist on having a greater say or wielding more clout because he or she was born earlier.
  • Position nepotism. The founder’s children or children of the eldest founder may get special treatment. 
  • Parent’s pet. Mom or dad\\\'s darling is favored over his or her siblings, who can grow resentful. 
  • Inner-family fraternizing. Some relatives may prefer to interact more – or less – with a particular kin than with other family members inside and outside of work.
  • Family feud. Competition for favors or attention from the powers-that-be can be just as intense or destructive in family businesses as it is elsewhere.


To avoid these common start-up pitfalls, family business experts say communication is key. According to Leserie Paelmo, operations manager of Leslie’s Restaurant, a family-owned eatery in Crossing West, Tagaytay City, the secret to their success is strict adherence to the rule to discuss everything as a family until they all reach a consensus.



So before taking that leap together, meet in a neutral, non-judgmental environment to work out all the details, before situations crop up to muddy the state of affairs. During your discussions, anticipate all possible business entanglements and make plans on how to resolve them. Explain to every one the risks and rewards of being in a family business. Draw up written agreements on job descriptions, salaries and benefits, shares and dividend policies, and lines of authority.

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