All families have their issues, for it’s entirely natural to argue and disagree with those whom you are closest to. This can happen during the best times, but it’s even more common in families who run a business together. This is why Bill Smith of Double Iron Consulting regularly talks about the importance of communication in family businesses. Who is Bill Smith? Bill Smith is a leading expert in family business communication. He gained business and communication skills through his family-run company, Royal Cup Coffee. Originally founded in 1896, Royal Cup Coffee has been owned by the Smith family since 1950 and led by a family member until 2020, with Bill Smith as the last family CEO. He now sits on the board and shares the knowledge he gained from decades of working in the business through his firm Double Iron Consulting. If you want to know the importance of communication in a family business, just ask Bill Smith. Family Relations are at Risk People have arguments with their business partners all the time. While this is never a good thing, chances are that most people don’t have to live around their business partners 24/7. They don’t share Thanksgiving meals with them or participate in all the major milestones of their lives. Family businesses are different. Arguments can break apart a family. Sometimes, people are shunned by their family members after communication breaks down in a family-run company. Or a family member may leave the business, cutting ties with the people they loved. One example is World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) — on-screen antics aside, the company is family-run. Yet breakdowns in communication have forced many family members to the sidelines, some of whom have gone on to create businesses in other industries. When people learn to communicate effectively in a family business, they separate their business and personal lives and stop worrying about irritating their family members. Resolve Conflicts Quicker One area that Bill Smith focuses on at Double Iron Consulting is conflict resolution, particularly when it comes to families. It is fair to say that arguments in a family business tend to be much bigger than arguments between coworkers who aren’t related. Perhaps this is because of the shared life history or because people feel freer to say what they want to those closest to them. These arguments can spiral out of control if not handled properly, so learning proper communication techniques in a family business is essential. Otherwise, both the business and the family suffer. Everybody is on the Same Page With family-run businesses, most family members will be there for life. Even though Bill Smith is no longer the CEO of Royal Cup Coffee, he still sits on the board. For Bill Smith, Royal Cup Coffee is a part of his legacy and heritage. He is still tied to the company, much like his family members before him. In a family-run business, multiple people have a stake in the company. All family members are trying to protect what the previous generations built up and make things better for future generations. The problem is that these stakeholders may have other ideas about running the company. Many family-run businesses don’t have a defined hierarchy among family members, so several may think they are the primary decision-maker. Fostering proper communication among family members can result in the following: \tA unified vision for the company, which leads to future stability \tA defined hierarchy, which means that everybody knows where they stand in the business When everybody shares the same vision for a company, there is a greater chance of success. Better Business Decisions Can Be Made Image Source: freepik One major problem with family-run businesses is that people often fear starting conflicts with other family members. People may not make their legitimate views known because they fear it will cause a personal family rift that can never be healed. This can lead to ineffectual decision-making by the business, which can hurt profitability and long-term stability. In most other businesses, people aren’t so worried about upsetting their coworkers; a family-run business should be no different. Like other businesses, everyone has expertise, and ideas should be free-flowing. Bill Smith spends a lot of time helping family members feel comfortable sharing their business ideas. People should never be afraid to make the right decision because they don’t want to upset somebody. Less Infighting In many cases, family-run businesses will stay in the same family for generations. Many family members may want the top job in the company, wanting to take the person who takes the business into the future. Only some family members can have that job. The HBO show Succession (inspired by a true story) illustrates how family members will step on each other’s toes to get the top job. Why? Because a proper succession plan was not implemented, everybody thought the top position was theirs. Another service offered by Double Iron Consulting is succession planning. This sets out a clear line of succession for a family business and ensures that each person knows their place in the hierarchy and future role. Proper communication of a clear hierarchy leads to less infighting, less conflict, and more effective business decisions. If You Run a Family Business, Work on Your Business Communication Skills If you are part of a family-run business, you must learn how to communicate effectively. Following the advice and concepts shared by Bill Smith of Double Iron Consulting will reduce potential conflict among family members and make working with them more exciting. Family-run businesses that adopt proper communication techniques are more profitable and tend to be around long-term, achieving the success that past generations would have wanted. Further Reading \t The Importance of Safety Signage for Business Owners \t Investor Communication Strategy is Key for Startups \t How to Stay Productive while Growing your Small Business?