Written by Cara Kahan, CEO of 1706 Advisors
Essay Featured in Family Business Magazine
The strength of family brings strength to the family business.
When my sister, Alana, and I stepped into our family’s business, my mom, Stacy (the founder), shared a powerful message: “I have three children – the two of you and this business. The two of you can take care of yourselves, but this business needs support, attention, diligence and hard work to stay alive and well. And none of us are bigger than the business.” This statement resonated with us.
The three of us have set out to change the landscape of our industry, showcasing the strength and determination of three powerful women. Balancing our roles as professionals and family members, we established strong boundaries to maintain our relationships and ensure success.
During different transitions, we have faced numerous challenges, and we learned to tackle them head-on. A pivotal moment came when I was pregnant – and the birth would coincide with our busiest season. I was battling extreme morning sickness. Anticipating the arrival of my baby, we knew our boundary skills would be tested.
As a small team, busy season demands all hands on deck. We knew the only way to have a strategy and support for each other during this transformative time was to have some hard and frank conversations. We set rules around our discussions – no hurt feelings; open, honest conversation with a focus on results. We devised a strategy to support each other during this transformative time, redistributing responsibilities and making sure no one was overwhelmed. And when the baby came we were prepared, ready for everyone’s changing roles in the business and at home.
Alana even took a prospect meeting for me from the hospital while we waited. Not many people can say their business partner and sister were present during childbirth, but I can. Alana and my mom were there for me — and for the business, stepping up when I had to shift my focus to my new baby boy and my husband.
Through this experience, we truly appreciated the power of our bond as a family and a team. Stacy and Alana’s unwavering support and guidance played a crucial role in preparing us to face challenges and assume leadership roles in the business.
If I have to give one piece of advice to any family business, it is to figure out a way to maintain necessary boundaries while fostering a collaborative and supportive environment. It sounds easy, but it cannot be more challenging. We make it a point to have open and honest conversations about our expectations, needs and limits in both our professional and personal lives. This is an essential aspect of balancing family dynamics and respecting each other’s personal space. We understand the importance of separating work life from family life, and we make a conscious effort to create that distinction. We try to allocate specific times for family bonding, during which we refrain from discussing business matters. Honestly, this is the hardest part. It takes a lot of effort and we fail a lot.
Another thing I’ve learned is to tap into a deeper level of understanding and empathy. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can rely on one another to fill in the gaps when needed. Use this as an advantage.
Business is hard, family is hard, and combining the two in a family business might be even harder. But it’s through these challenges that we’ve grown stronger, both as individuals and as a team. The invaluable lessons we’ve learned from working together and maintaining strong family bonds while driving the business forward are at the core of our success.
Our journey as a family business has taught us that when we embrace the challenges, support one another, and stay true to our core values, we can achieve great things together.
For more information on solutions for individuals, families and business owners, contact Alana, or for employer solutions, contact Cara.
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