National Siblings Day: 5 Tips to Success for Working with Family
In honour of National Siblings Day, we are exploring our BooknBrunch sibling partnership.
Finding the Right Business Partner is Challenging
Business partners need to be completely aligned with your vision, understand your goals, want to reach the same success you do, and they need to be trusted. They need to have skills you don’t have. Be reliable, stable, passionate, and so much more.
I have witnessed many a business partnership crumble under the weight of entrepreneurship. Starting a business is not for the faint-hearted, which is why I feel especially grateful that my business partner is also my ride or die.
When I witnessed how my sister energized and grew her community by bringing people together over a book club experience they had never had before, I was beyond inspired.
The notion of ‘book club’ suddenly meant something different to thousands of people because she had made it special, unique, seamless, and easy. She held space for anyone who needed it and the book club became a place for networking and sharing in ways people hadn’t done before. I was proud. Though it was her incredible personal transformation that finally moved us to launch BooknBrunch together.
I was hesitant because I’d heard nightmare stories about siblings going into business together. Now I can’t imagine having a business partner who is not my sister.
First of all, sisters are a special kind of magic. If you have a sister then you know what I’m talking about. She can read your mind, you have a shorthand, you laugh a lot and you innately know when to push and when to pull with them. They are family.
Secondly, there is a long and great tradition of siblings who run businesses together: Walt and Roy Disney, Patrick and John Collison, Amy Schumer and Kim Caramele, the Warner brothers, the Wright brothers, the Kardashian sisters, the Manning brothers, the Olsen twins, the Williams sisters — there is no shortage of successful case studies for sibling businesses.
Still, it gives most people pause. ‘Don’t get into business with family’ is the usual warning.
Here are the reasons it absolutely rocks to be building a book club community and revolution with my sister:
Trust: The level of trust between us is beyond anything that is possible with any other human.
Knowing: She knows me and I know her — intimately.
Shorthand: We have a shorthand and ways of working that are efficient and uniquely ours.
Love: If you love your business partner, I would guess you’d be more inclined to succeed.
That said, if you’re considering starting a business with a family member, here are our top tips:
1. Communication, Transparency, and Directness
One of the key ways partnerships thrive — especially when the partners are related — is through communicating frequently and disclosing fully. All feelings, thoughts, emotions, fears, and plans for the future. Communication needs to be transparent and frequent. No holds barred. Tell all.
This is much easier to do when you have a shorthand with your partner. When she can send you an emoji or a meme and you know exactly what that means for you personally, but also for the business decision you are making together in that moment.
You have to be fully transparent with your business partner about life, love, business, everything. With my sister this comes almost automatically. Communicate clearly and often, and be direct.
Even if they can practically read your mind, don’t take your sibling partner for granted, and don’t assume that just because they’re family, they know exactly what you’re thinking. Excellent communication is the backbone of a successful sibling partnership.
2. Expectations and Roles
Set out expectations and roles ahead of the partnership. How will the work be divided? Who will own what parts of the business? What happens when you disagree? How will you make decisions? Be clear and specific about this and get the legal side of things sorted well before you dive into your business with a family member. Put it all in writing.
3. Mentorship, Coaching, and Advisory
Crucial for any business — but especially for a sibling partnership: Get yourself a business coach or mentor who will help you navigate the waters of entrepreneurship.
It’s crucial to have someone to bounce ideas off of and someone to help loosen or shake out any issues with ‘tie breaks.’
Even better, build a team of mentors around you. People who believe in your vision and want to see you succeed. People who have been where you are and are willing to share their journey with you.
4. Leave Your Sh*t at the Door
Since you’ve known this person your entire life, and they have known you, there is likely to be a lot of preconceived notions around who they are, what their capabilities are, how they handle various situations, and what kind of business partner they might be.
Leave all this at the door.
My sister and business partner, Zuzana, has known me since birth. So before we started in business together, it was crucial that we didn’t allow our own beliefs about each other (whether limiting or not) to cloud decision making and communication around what we were building.
Don’t make assumptions about your partner on any front.
5. Patience and Breathing
I asked Zuzana for her top tips on being in business with a sibling and she replied, “Lots of breathing and patience,” which is typical of her; direct and honest. The truth is that no matter who your partner is, there will be times when things get hard and maybe that person drives you crazy in that moment. The key is to step back, breathe, and have patience with your partner.
Patience is required for any entrepreneurial journey but especially when you take this journey with family.
I might add a bonus tip: Gratitude.
Sibling partnerships aren’t always the right choice, but when there’s trust, transparency, communication, love, passion, and a shared vision for the future, it can be the best decision you’ve ever made.
Every day I’m grateful that I get to run a business with my best friend.
Want to learn more about our mission at BooknBrunch? Dive into our backstory and see how it all works here.
Favourite book: Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Favourite brunch dish: Shahsuka