Five Tips To Running A Family Business that Actually Work!
When people hear that Good Space Plans Online is owned by Dwaina Sprague and Molly Sprague, a mother-daughter business, we often get asked if the dynamics actually work. We can understand the trepidation from others! Lots of family-businesses are balancing acts between professional and personal boundaries. Yet here we are, 9 years later, and still enjoying each other’s company with a business that is growing ever stronger.
The truth is there are many misconceptions to what actually happens in a family business. And if you’ve been considering partnering with a family member, then we are here to tell you it can be a very fulfilling and advantageous experience. However, be aware that issues and disagreements are bound to creep up and in order to mitigate those problems we offer five tips to maintain harmony.
The Good Space Plans Team:
Dwaina first began Good Space in 2005 after sending the last of her four children off to university. She had been operating her interior design practice, “Under One Roof Interiors” from her home and was ready to venture out into a brick and mortar studio in Gastown. In 2014, she decided to make Good Space Plans Online with the mission to connect people to a world of interior design through e-design technology that’s more approachable, accessible, collaborative and fun.
Molly joined the company after graduating from Saint Francis Xavier University in 2011. Shortly after, she left her job of working with children to work with her mother in the family biz. Since then, she and Dwaina have been nurturing Good Space Plans Online into an online interior design service that’s more approachable, accessible, collaborative and fun for homeowners.
Five Ways We Make Family Business Work
Molly and Dwaina are the first to admit that running a business with family is not always seamless, but they make it work by following these five business practices below. They also proudly follow the principals of progressive feminist business models, such as interdependence, embodying values, and socially conscious marketing. Their proudest accomplishment to date is their constant support of Covenant House Vancouver.
Read on to learn the 5 key business practices Dwaina and Molly use as both business partners and family members.
1. Trust and Communication
Dwaina explains the most important first step in working in a family business is establishing trust and communication. To do that there needs to be firm boundaries set for everyone’s success. For example, clearly defined roles of whom to report to is important. Set work hours are also crucial to make sure only work-related tasks are being completed and communicated.
Dwaina believes non-judgmental communication can be practiced through ground rules from the start. However, she also jokes that you will mess these up enough times to see what works and what doesn’t – and that is all worth the effort.
2. Minimize Gossip and Complaints
Dwaina also highlights that she and Molly try to minimize complaining or gossiping to one another. She acknowledges that sometimes the urge to complain can be too strong to resist, and that makes this rule always a work in progress. However, they know the discipline they are practicing adds boundaries and professionalism to their family life and business life.
3. Find Balance
Molly says her experience working in a family business is something she’s grateful for every day. She is especially proud of the balance she and her mom have found with each other. Open communication about when to focus on work and when to enjoy family time is important for balance. She says that it is not always easy to admit your limits, but it has made their work environment feel much much more enjoyable.
For them something as simple as jumping out of their work day to go for a walk together can establish balance in the day. Finding those moments to talk about their day-to-day events and their personal life gives them much needed family time.
4. Be Open To Change
Although we’ve stated defined roles as important, they don’t always work in the ways you expect. Molly says this is why it’s important to be open to change.
There’s much wisdom to be shared when you bring in past and present lessons to inform visions of the future. Making time to discuss new concepts and recommendations allows your business to be open to new ideas. While still respecting each other’s boundaries.
When you accept what is, it creates more space for creativity, which then translates to more productive and innovative work. This requires open communication at all times.
5. Make Room for Fun
Molly says the best part of working in a family business is the fun she and her mom get to have together. Going to events are ways they let loose and learn something new. Finding ways to bring fun to their office is important for them too. Molly can’t deny they are big snackers. So every meeting has to have some version of a delicious snack. I mean, what doesn’t go well with hummus and a fun work environment?!
Dwaina and Molly both love being cozy in their office, so they buy slippers for each team member working there. Lap blankets, cozy scarves, anything to be cozy is key!
When Dwaina and Molly can incorporate fun ways to connect with each other in the workspace, they really see how their working relationship shines.
I Came I Saw I Conquered
Both Dwaina and Molly had their veni, vidi, vici moments when they decided to run a business together. They came together to plan their dreams of running an interior design company that puts you, the client, first. They saw the challenges that could happen from working together as a family. And they conquered those challenges through their honesty, boundaries, and having fun together.
If you want to know more about how they make running a family business work then listen to Dwaina and Molly speak and answer questions at Pinkhaus’s I Came, I Saw, I Conquered event.
They will be joined by other successful business women Desirée Dupuis and Jenifer Wright. Desirée Dupuis is the director of Ruben’s Shoes Society, a non-profit group that has sent 80,000 pairs of shoes around the world. Jenifer Wright, the General Manager of Westwood Plateau Golf, and has benefited greatly from the 10+ years of hospitality and golf industry knowledge.
The event is FREE so register to claim your spot. All happening February 13, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM PST, 1126 Austin Avenue, Coquitlam. We can’t wait to see you there!