A family business that’s run online is a dream for many Americans. Whether you hope to pass that business down to future generations, you have to overcome the challenge of working with your family members. This includes the impact of work life on home life or difficult conversations when roles need to be defined in the workplace. Here are five tips for running a family-owned business online.

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Focus on Communication

The first key to running a successful family business is communication. Some people assume their family members know them so well that they don’t have to communicate their expectations on a given project. This is one reason why so many family businesses fail. If you want your business to be successful, it’s important to stop making assumptions and start communicating with your family members.

One way to do is to establish a business relationship with your family. Next, you should determine the core values of your business. Once you know the values, you need to make them clear to your family. Hold regular meetings with your family members to ensure that everyone understands your goals and aspirations. These meetings should be held on a weekly basis in order to air out differences and resolve matters.

Open communication can help with everything from finding threats to handling disputes.

Keep Everything in Writing

Even when you’re running an online business, you should keep everything in writing. Make sure your agreements and contracts come in document form. Family disagreements are bound to happen no matter how close you are. Handshake agreements no longer cut it.

Relying on a verbal agreement will open for conflict and failure. Create a formalized contract that includes issuances, job descriptions, and operating procedures. Your formalized agreement should protect all parties involved. This document should protect you through the good times and the bad.

Clearly Define Roles & Procedures

While this may be included with the documentation, this step should be reinforced in your business. In an online family business, lines can quickly get blurred. This is not the case when you have a physical business. It’s important to define roles when it comes to those who are responsible for finding threats or managing others.

Since collaboration on projects or tasks is bound to happen, it’s important that your role and your relative’s role are clearly defined. You want to define those roles before launching your business. If it’s possible, have your family members report to another person in management. This can help keep all communications professional and to prevent conflicts of interest.

Treat Family Members Fairly

If you want your online business to be passed onto the next generation, then you need to treat each family member equally and fairly. Most online businesses can’t survive without the energy of family members and their hard work. It’s important to avoid favoritism among employees and family members. You should also be fair when it comes to constructive criticism, praise, pay scales, and work schedules.

In order to run a successful online business, you should create your own competencies. You can also train each of your managers to be accountable for every employee’s performance and outcome. This systematic process will reduce the perceptions of favoritism.

Limit Work to Working Hours

When it comes to the health and sanity of your family, working with a family in an online business makes it even more imperative to keep work at work. This means not having work conversations outside of work. Some couples are used to venting about their jobs on their commute ride home. This provides them with space to communicate those nagging or persistent thoughts while establishing a defined endpoint to those conversations.

It can be hard to run an online business without some sort of family baggage. Running a family-operated business can have advantages over other types of online businesses when you have a sold support group ready to stand behind your efforts. If your online business is a family-owned business, then you’ll need to take the appropriate steps to ensure harmony and prevent burnout.