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Working Together Means Working Apart
For many in the automotive recycling industry, going to work is a family affair. Whether it is Brother-Brother, Father-Daughter, or Husband-Wife, family dynamics are everywhere in family-Owned business.

Depending on whom you ask (or when you ask) about the experience of working in a family business, the difference can be as varied as Heaven and Hell. Hopefully, by walking through some helpful tips, we can bring a little bit more Heaven into the day-to-day experience of family business.

The Plan
Just like any other business venture, the most important place to start is with the plan. Why is the business here and how is it going to be successful? Seems simple enough; however, when families enter into business together they often fail to start with this question. Instead, many begin with the family before addressing how the business itself will work.

• Have a plan for how each member of the family contributes to the vision of the business and make adjustments to the plan at any time where a new member of the family joins or leaves the business. If a family member is not contributing to the business vision, we have a problem! So, the best way to protect against this problem is to start with a plan or vision that all parties have agreed upon.

• Continue to update the business plan every quarter to make sure that all parties have a chance to communicate and contribute to the present and future state of the company.

The Boundaries

Businesses work best when run like a business. Families work best when run like a family. If we start with these two simple truths, then it becomes relatively clear that having consistent boundaries between family life and business life is essential to the survival of the family business.

• Examples of boundaries in the family business setting are keeping all important or difficult discussions behind closed doors, having clear job descriptions to prevent overlap, clarifying chain of command, and allowing each member to use necessary authority independently.

• Examples of boundaries at home are arranging preset times to discuss business issues away from the business, limiting discussions of the business to prearranged times or at least protecting important family events by making them free of business discussions.

The Individual

When working in a family business, it is easy for people to be caught in pre-arranged roles. For the family business to run optimally, it is necessary to assess each individual family member skill set and allow them opportunities to use their individual gifts.

• Allowing individuals to use their skill set should increase overall business productivity, as well as job satisfaction of all employees.

• While not everyone may get to do exactly what they want, finding ways for each family member to use some of their unique skills should enhance the overall environment of the business.

The Recap

Overall, following this process should protect family businesses from many of the pitfalls that often lead to failure.

• Starting with a business plan ensures that the needs of the business are placed first to protect its survival.

• Putting healthy boundaries into place to allow both the family and business system to thrive separately with different rules and roles will protect all family members and allow them to have their needs met at home and at work. 

• Lastly, allowing for each individual to have a unique role creates accountability for the business and fulfillment for the individual.

The Webinar and The Seminar
You can learn more on this topic by signing up for CBC’s one-hour family business Webinar on Wednesday, October 19 at noon CST. Visit An in-depth family business seminar is also offered; to learn more please e-mail us directly. n

Chad Counts,, (512) 963-4626, specializes in family dynamics and communications. He provides training regarding communication strategies, dealing with conflict, and understanding others personalities. Robert Counts,, (512) 653-6915, consults with recyclers in the United States and Canada on financial health, growing the business, and managing the family business. He also manages owners’ groups. Counts business Consulting is found at Find them on Facebook. ©Robert Counts and Chad Counts.

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