Is working with family ever easy?

Research says that working with family can be tricky, yet beneficial if done right, for small businesses. And here at KashFlow Duane’s hired a few of his family members and they all work closely together.

While I’ve never worked with family in a professional setting*, I suspect that if I worked with my brother there’d be a good chance that only one of us would live to tell about it.

So, what’s it really like with family?

We talked with KashFlow customer Andy, who works with his brother, and a couple KashFlow employees to hear what they had to say.

Unfortunately they’ve shared no dramatic tales or any juicy secrets – just a whole load of rubbish about how working with family worked well for them.

Andy’s inside scoop

Andy Dickenson, Managing Director at Intelligas Limited, began selling Gas Interlocking and Proving Systems for commerical kitchens and schools with his brother Gary back in 2007. They never discussed running a business and instead began working together because of the circumstances at hand.

“Basically Gary came down for a visit as I was testing one of my prototypes. The system never got to market and we never sold one! Gary, however, suggested that he put together a website to ‘test the water’.”

It’s still just the two of them running the business and he says they work well together. (Something about never having any sibling rivalry because they had different interests.)

“To be honest, most decisions are accepted by each other as being in the best interest of the company and very rarely argued.  It’s only when major decisions such as PR, advertising campaigns, which accounts package to use, etc. do we really chew over the options and discuss the finances.”

“I think the success of the business is partly down to the fact it’s family owned.  It is also down to the fact that the business didn’t have to support full wages from the outset as myself and Gary had other interests to support us financially.”

Words from Duane

KashFlow began because Duane wasn’t satisfied with the accounting software available to him when he began his first business. However, his sister-in-law, Dominique, has played an integral role since those early days and now knows pretty much everything about KashFlow.

“Dominique was just leaving school and looking for her first job. I was working alone at the time and thought having someone around to help with admin stuff and some of the boring repetitive tasks could be useful.”

“She has been my PA and right-hand for a long time but has now moved away from those roles and is Office Manager and runs the Support Team.”

But he does not pin KashFlow’s success on working with family. Instead he credits the company’s success to the specific individuals he’s chosen to work with, regardless of familial relations.

He also suggests you hire family members, “but don’t treat them any differently than you would any other employee.”

George spills the beans

George Gillespie is Dominique’s younger brother and the Assistant Administrator here at KashFlow. He makes sure the office runs smoothly, mans our Monday morning coffee runs and is almost always in a good mood.

“I’m Duane’s Manwell and I make him a coffee or get his lunch every now and then and Dom is the Head of Admin and also the Head of Support so she assigns me [support] tickets and also gives me accounts-related jobs to do throughout the day.”

Like Duane, George doesn’t think KashFlow is more successful because family is working together. “But we work better because we’re not afraid to chuck in a suggestion no matter how bizarre.”

“If something they do annoys you, you can’t say anything because they’re family, right?” he says before delving into the benefits: “The banter that goes on. We can make jokes about each other. With no harm done!”

But George does have some advice if you’re considering hiring a family member: “Make sure you like them! If they annoy you a bit they will annoy you ALOT when spending a 9-5 with them.”

*Minding my niece on the odd afternoons that I’m available when I’m back at home with my family doesn’t count.

Katie Poole - Community Manager

Katie is no longer with us, but when she was here she worked as our Community Manager. As you might expect, her blog posts are all about building relationships, particularly through in-person events and social media.

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  • Emily

    I had a client who worked in the family business with his father, but at work he always addressed his father by his given name – he said it would feel unprofessional shouting “DAD!” across the workshop if a customer was in earshot.

    Personally I think that’s a bit weird, I could never imagine calling my father anything other than “Dad”!

    I think if the personalities are right there’s no reason at all why family members shouldn’t work together!

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