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Starting up a business with a sibling

The thought of starting up a business with a sibling may be scary for some business owners. Can it be done successfully?

If you’ve grown up with brothers and sisters you’ll remember the bickering and frequent arguments from your childhood. However, for others it can create an informal environment that really works. We spoke to two businesses we’ve backed and asked them what the pros and cons are when working with family.

Having a shared vision

Bethan and her brother, Joe, started their business, Decorator’s Notebook, with the help of Start Up Loans. Decorator’s Notebook sources handmade home accessories from fair trade groups, social enterprises and artisan co-operatives around the world, and sells them to consumers online and at local markets.

Bethan had this to say about starting up with her brother, Joe.

“Many people find it hard to believe that a brother and sister can work well together, but we make a really strong team. I think the secret is that we both have a clear shared vision for our business, but we have different strengths that mean we’re not stepping on each other’s toes day to day.”

A unique level of trust

That doesn’t mean that starting up with a sibling is free of challenges. However, as Bethan explains, the family bond allows for their differences to be resolved quickly.

“When a task needs doing it’s usually quite clear who should be taking charge and we trust one another. That’s not to say we never disagree, but being family means we can be totally honest, work through any disagreements and move on.”

Whilst the informal relationship can help communication, it’s important that you manage the work-life balance and separate business time from family time. You will need to have serious and strategic conversations about where the business is going which shouldn’t be done over the dinner table. Try blocking out time where the business is your only focus and keep that aside from general family affairs.

That extra bit of motivation

Another Start Up Loans backed business, Baggers Originals, which sells children’s waterproof clothing, has really kept business in the family with two sisters working to revive their mothers old company. Jessica explains why being in business with your family is great.

“Re-launching the business as a family gave us all so much motivation to bring Baggers Originals back! With my younger sister Stephanie having just left her marketing career of 7 years to join the business, it really gave Baggers Originals a whole new breath of fresh air!”

Jessica and Angela Mclean with their business Baggers Original at Downing Street

Coming closer together

Think about it. You know each other really well and you already have that strong relationship that can take business partners years to develop. You know each others likes and dislikes, and whilst you may have your differences, the business is a passion that you both share. Looking past the clashing of ideas and different opinions that might come from spending so much time together, Jessica believes that ultimately it brings you closer as a family and you realise just how incredible each of you are.

Bethan John agrees.

“Working with a sibling isn’t going to suit everyone, but Decorator’s Notebook is a stronger business because we are such a close team.”

Feeling Inspired?