We’ve all heard that hiring your family is a bad idea. And the reasons make sense: family members might not take the work seriously, they’ll expect special treatment, or a family dispute will rear its ugly head during staff meetings.
Despite these very real concerns, in my experience, there are a number of advantages to having your own flesh and blood on your team. In my three years as an entrepreneur, I have leveraged the talents of three of my siblings. It may seem risky to some, but I have never regretted my decision to hire family members.
Popular consensus aside, here are four reasons why it’s a good idea to hire family members.
1. They believe in you and your vision.
Generally speaking, no one close to you wants you to fail. This is especially true of a parent or sibling. Family members have the potential to go the extra mile to help in whatever way they can. They will be more invested in your success.
It can be a challenge to hire new employees when you first start a business. When I started my company, GraphicBomb, I was fortunate that my sister Karen believed in what I was doing and worked evenings to help me get the company off the ground. It would have been impossible for me to hire someone off the street with the same level of passion.
2. They won’t sidestep the hard truth.
When you start a business, you need to surround yourself with an honest team. A family member is less likely to hold back crucial feedback that could save your company from disaster because it’s more than just a job to them, too.
For example, I once proposed an idea at a staff meeting and my sister immediately shot it down and proposed an even better idea. I accepted her suggestion. The real benefit of this scenario was that the other employees could see that I welcome better ideas no matter where they originate.
3. You can trust family members.
As a rule of thumb, if you can trust a family member (i.e. they have a track record of trustworthiness) you can probably trust them to help you with your business. This is especially important if you are hiring remote employees. You can’t be there to watch over them every second.
When I first started out, I hired my youngest sister to help with light editorial work. I knew beforehand that I could count on her to get the work done on time and up to my standards.
4. Your leadership style won’t faze them.
Family members don’t need a long period to get to know you and your way of doing things — it’s old news to them, so they can jump right into their role without nervously deciphering every nuance of every email or phone call from “the boss”.
When I hired my sister she hit the ground running right away. The usual three-month on-boarding period was more like three days, or maybe even three hours. Speed is important in a startup, so reducing employee on-boarding time can have a positive impact on your business immediately.
In summary, if you do decide to take the plunge and hire a family member, seek the advice of those who have done so before. Be sure you’ve done your research and have a solid strategy so you can avoid conflicts or sticky situations that could negatively impact your business and your personal life.
Be sure to have written employment agreements just as you would for non-family members, so there are no misunderstandings later. And of course, you should avoid showing special treatment to family to the detriment of your other employees.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Dave Boehl is a digital media entrepreneur in the online advertising space. He’s the founder and CEO at GraphicBomb, an online media publisher and performance ad network helping travel advertisers such as airlines, booking sites, hotels, and cruise lines reach consumers with high travel booking intent.
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