The Family Business Partnership

Why are you in Business Together?

Why are you in Business Together?

When was the last time that you asked yourselves the question, “Why are we in business together?” 

As a family in business together it can be easy to assume that everyone is in business for the same reasons, however in my experience this is not always the case and so in this post I am looking at the benefits to you as a family, a business and importantly as individuals, in understanding what role your family business can play in you living a fulfilled life. 

Start with Why

Simon Sinek wrote a book called ‘Start with Why’ following the success of a TED Talk that he gave with the same title. It’s a good book with some useful examples in there of successful businesses that have been built on their ‘why’. 

Sinek argues that people buy why you do something rather than what or how you do that. Some of the examples used highlight that there are ‘superior’ products available for the market but consumers choose those businesses because their why resonates with them. 

When it comes to working with your family, it can be tough to articulate why you are in business together, the most common answer I get to that question when I ask the families I work, “Why are you in business together?” is “because we are” 

The business can be successful and have multiple generations of the same family in it all working well together, but there has still not been a deliberate discussion as to why they are doing it. 

There is a lot said about the importance of understanding our purpose  in life and there are benefits to this at a family level, a business level and at an individual level. When the three are explored together and help to create greater alignment, wonderful things can happen. 

Purpose versus On Purpose

Having said this, there is also a danger that we can become obsessed with everyone involved in the family business needing to have the same high levels of passion towards the business as those that have set the business up. 

If your ‘purpose’ is to provide a lifestyle for your family that allows for a balanced and fulfilled life to be lived, rather than one dominated by working every hour in the business, you may be able to achieve that in a different way to someone whose ‘purpose’ is gained by growing the business to multi million pounds of turnover. 

It may be that your purpose is better achieved outside of the family business. If you want to become a photographer, a plumber or a brain surgeon and your family business manufactures widgets, it is unlikely you will find fulfilment within the family business.

By understanding what it is you want out of life, you can then do that on purpose. Dolly Parton suggests that we “find who we are, and then do it on purpose” 

Life is not a rehearsal and so understanding what we value in life, and how best we can live a fulfilled life is surely a great thing? 

The Role of the Family Business

Understanding this can then allow us to look at what role the family business can play in that. 

As a family if you define your collective purpose (via a Family Charter / Constitution, for example) as providing the best opportunities for each family member be that within or outside of the family business, you can then operate that business to allow you to do that. 

If as an individual you then discover that your purpose is to be the World’s greatest widget manufacturer, you can align that with your work within the family business. Perhaps even owning that business in the future and living a happy and fulfilled life. 

If your well-being is maximised through a career as a photographer or plumber and that isn’t possible within the business, is it possible as a potential future owner of that business? Is it possible that the family business can be used to help fund your training as a photographer or plumber? 

Finding out what it is that we value in life and can gain well-being from is a step towards living life on purpose and with purpose. That can be within the family business or outside of the family business. 

If as a family you are aligned in a collective purpose of helping every family member to live a fulfilled life, you can set out your ownership philosophy from this, your education programme’s for the next generation from this, your employment policies from this. You get my point. 

Understanding why we are doing something is a great starting point. 

I am here to help

If you are looking for help in exploring what living a fulfilled life would look like and what role your family business can play in this, please get in touch.

If you are looking to gain clarity as a family as to the purpose of your business, and answering the question “Why are we in business together?” I can help. I provide the framework and environment that allows you to discuss this in a safe environment.  


Let's have a chat

Inviting an external consultant into your business and your family is a big step, I appreciate that, and it is not a responsibility I take lightly. The first step in moving forward is for us to have a chat about what you are trying to achieve and how I can help. 

Follow this link to book a chat with me. No obligation, if I can help we can discuss how and the next steps. 

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When making the exciting decision to start a business with my husband, the complexities of working with family didn't cross my mind. Rather than deliver a positive change in lifestyle, we found ourselves bringing the marriage into the business and the business into the marriage! Working with Russ helped us define structure and boundaries between work and home, and create distinct roles that would enable us to work to our strengths while managing expectations of each other. We found the sessions fun and engaging, and learned as much about ourselves as we did each other.
Rachel and Sam
Business Owners
We have worked with Russ on a number of projects with our clients and within our own team as well. He has an incredible talent for creating an environment where it feels safe to respond to difficult questions.

Not only is this useful for resolving differences, but also for understanding why business processes are not working the way that they should. Russ’ keeps you focused on the reason why you are doing what you do.

Having him involved has given my team an incredibly powerful boost.
Business Owner