Faith and Family at Work: A Recipe for Disaster or Prosperity?
Done right, melding business, faith and family is the most incredible pursuit you will ever undertake.
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Twenty-eight million small businesses exist in the U.S. alone. They account for more than 60 percent of all new jobs. Currently more than 16 million people work from home in the United States, a figure that is expected to continue growing in 2014. Social media offers an opportunity greater than ever before for an increase in new small businesses and increased sales. Studies predict that the U.S. small business community will increase by 64 percent in the next four years.
Many small businesses are family owned and operated.
Others are started by families and then grow into corporations. It's no mystery that these businesses involve family members working together and many of these families are faith-based in some capacity. While the idea of being able to work, live and prosper together is appealing to some, others say they would never be able to endure working with their spouse or family.
If you dream of working with your family in your own company, remember that what shows up in your personal life will ALWAYS show up in your business. There's no way around it. For our family, business has been the tool God used to make us stronger, wiser and ultimately, wealthier. It definitely wasn't easy. Nothing of value is. But it was most certainly worth it.
Related: What Part Does Religion Play in Gender Roles at Work?
When I surveyed the more than 900,000 people who follow me on social media about their challenges in working with family, this is what they said they struggled with:
- Not knowing where business stops and family begins. Constant talk about business can create stress.
- When one person is the boss, family members resent the corporate structure that doesn't exist in the family unit.
- One spouse is a visionary and the other is negative, which creates increased tension in the marriage.
- Financial challenges within the family now include financial stresses from the business.
- Having to deal with things that have been buried or denied in the family relationship.
Yet, the list of blessings is just as long as the list of challenges, including:
- Being able to be with the ones we love.
- Seeing the kids grow up and learning life with mom and dad.
- Ability to control cash flow and not depend on another company's success or failure.
- Growing stronger as a team spiritually, physically and financially.
- Being able to make decisions for your own career, time and future.
I've worked in my own business for 18 years. Sixteen of those years were from my own home office. I've worked with other small business owners, large corporations and everything in between. During the last three years, my entire family has joined me. I prayed for 15 years for this kind of reality to be called "our life" and it's my dream to help others fulfill their dreams.
Related: Faith Works at Work. So Why Can't We Talk About It?
So how do we make faith and family work at work? Here are five ways:
Define what you want for your own home and business. At the end of the day you are the one who lives with your choices. Just because someone else doesn't want to talk about business at home doesn't mean it's a toxic choice if it works for you. We've had some of our most powerful discussions and have made historic growth in our company right at the kitchen table over a meal with our team.
Keep your business and personal finances separate. If your personal funds will be used to start your business, allocate a specific amount and then transfer it to a business account. Take regular draws for your salary and make decisions as a family for the business. Keep your bank accounts separate from the beginning. Transferring funds over between the two accounts is OK and normal, but don't operate business and personal together in one account.
Just because a position is available or the company needs someone to fill it doesn't mean a family member has to do it. In the beginning it's normal to do whatever it takes to get the job done. The CEO will do everything initially and it's normal that everyone pitches in and does what is needed. But just because an opening is available and family is running the company, it doesn't mean someone has to take a position they don't like or aren't any good at. Happy teams are productive teams! Start outsourcing and hiring others outside the family! It will make you stronger and will also bring some challenges, which are GOOD for company growth!
Strive for relationship and connection over anything else. Be willing to work through things. Talk through ALL of the hard things. This alone will build an iron-like connection that nothing can break! Be willing to laugh, cry, pray, talk and everything in between. THIS is what builds a culture that lasts. People who can't shouldn't and won't be able to work there.
Put God at the forefront of everything you do. His view of love in relationships is much better than ours. It WORKS in business and in family. Good will and good fortune go together like a hand in a glove. Heaven's concept of integrity: 100 percent in all situations is healthier than the fragmented nonsense most people attempt to live. God can do things in our homes and our businesses that we can't do.
It is my firm conviction that doing business, faith and family together is the most incredible pursuit you will ever undertake.
It will be the hardest thing you ever do as well. At the end of the day, the fruit of your labors, efforts and willingness will be the incredible life you create.
Related: Why Faith Belongs In Your Workplace