Working with Family Members

My husband and I purchased our company, River City Trees, when our youngest son was only 1 year old and have been working together ever since.  When we first started working for ourselves Bart was in the truck full time and I looked after the office.  Since then we have managed to grow our business, starting with Bart getting out of the truck in 2012, to now where we only go into the office three days a week.

The first family member we employed was our daughter. We have been fortunate to have her work with us while she is going through university, which has greatly benefited both of us as it has given her a great insight into how businesses run (she is studying Marketing at QUT) whilst she is helping us. She also recently converted our Operations Manager into a son-in-law who has now been working for us for 5 years.  Our son who is completing grade 12 in 3 weeks time has been doing a School Based Apprenticeship throughout years 11 and 12 in Arboriculture, which has given him the opportunity to work 1 day a week within our company and grow his skill set. As of next year, he will start working with us full time.

Working together as a family isn’t without it’s challenges, don’t get me wrong. It can be hard to separate work from your family life, keeping “work talk” in operating hours, and weekends devoted to the kids, so it is key to remember why you went into business for yourself. By doing this, you will remind yourself to keep everything in perspective and proportion. Stress can build, so it is also necessary to find your way to unwind. The worst thing you can do is to allow that stress to create tension in your relationships with family members in the workplace. When tension does start to build within relationships, which it may due to a number of reasons, it is essential that you maintain two-way communication, discussing the issues in a professional manner and producing recommendations and an action plan that will reduce the occurrences in the future.

By working through this we have managed to travel with our children to various countries across the globe, to expand their education and provide them with real world business experience. Our children have grown up into young people who understand the struggles and successes of a small business, have great work ethic and matured quicker, I believe, than other children who didn’t have this opportunity.

Working with your family unit can be the best environment to work in. Bouncing of each other’s strengths and building something you can be proud of and can share together is an incredible experience. I am so pleased to have even more of our family working with us day to day and wouldn’t change it for the world.

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By Jacqui Wills of River City Trees