Your Business Is NOT A Family

As an entrepreneur you spend most of your time working. One of the dangers of this is you can start to view the people you work with as your family. Your business is not a family.  It is rare that you would fire your brother from being your brother because he did not reach his performance goals for the month.

Your business has a very specific mission to accomplish. You want the people on your team which will help you make that happen. If you treat people like family in your business, you are going to have a very hard time making important decisions about the future of your company.

It is important to set the boundaries of the relationship you have with the people in your business upfront. The business relationship is task oriented and not relationship oriented.  This will make it easier for you and your business as it grows beyond the start-up phase.

 The Harvard Business Review has a great article on this and I want to share a few select quotes with you.

In contrast to a family, a professional sports team has a specific mission (to win games and championships), and its members come together to accomplish that mission. The composition of the team changes over time, either because a team member chooses to go to another team, or because the team’s management decides to cut or trade a team member. In this sense, a business is far more like a sports team than a family.

Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, in a famous presentation stated, “We’re a team, not a family.” He went on to advise managers to ask themselves, “Which of my people, if they told me they were leaving for a similar job at a peer company, would I fight hard to keep at Netflix? The other people should get a generous severance now so we can open a slot to try to find a star for that role.” – source

Here is a slide deck that covers the Netflix culture:

I don’t think every business requires the extreme level of performance that Reed Hastings is trying to achieve, but I think you get the idea of the correct perspective of the role people play in your business.