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How to Best Manage a Small Online Family Business

Small Online Family Business

Managing any business, let alone a Family Business can be a huge and daunting task. Family businesses are sometimes strained. I think this is probably because certain members of the family would rather be doing something else, but they feel obliged to stay in the family business.

Life becomes complex when this happens. Speak to most successful business owners and they will tell you that half the battle in building a successful business is to keep it simple.

You can build a business online that becomes a family business. This is a concept many people dream of but is not sure how to put into action. Working on the internet gives you the perfect opportunity to start your business and to include family members in different aspects of the day to day operations. Working with family can be great, but it can also produce friction, make sure that you have a contract and an ownership document. It is best to hire a lawyer to draft up an agreement and have it notarized just in case there is a disagreement down the line. 

Including your family in the business can be particularly good if you are just starting out and do not have the extra money to outsource some of the work. A family member can assist you and feel like they are part of the business from the very beginning. Later on, you can turn that job over to someone outside your family or simply turn it over to another family member.

To best manage a family business online, it important to take note of the following points:

1. Planning


Everyone in the family will have a different take on the internet, so get around the kitchen table and map out what everybody knows, and what everybody feels and believes about it. That will be one of the most powerful and revealing discussions you will ever have.

Figure out what you want to achieve in the long term and what you need to achieve in the short-term and write it down together with the timescales you are working to.

Remember to develop a succession plan. For instance who will take over, or who will the business be left to in a will, or in the case of a divorce. 

2. Budgeting

It is not uncommon for many businesses to underestimate their expenses and how much it costs to operate. So to avoid the financial drain of running your company have a game plan for every cent and creating boundaries before you spend.

If you plan to take credit cards, make sure to do your research in finding the best merchant services company that provides quality customer support and low transaction fees. Also, make sure you understand the policy when it comes to credit card charge-backs and friendly fraud. Between transaction fees and friendly fraud you can run afoul of your budget quickly, so make sure to take these into account when creating your budget. 

3. Set Boundaries

When working with family, one will need to set boundaries. Each member of the family business must have set jobs or tasks that they are responsible for on an ongoing basis. A contract will need to be drawn up, in the beginning, stating everyone’s rights clearly, and how many shares each person will own in the business. Make sure to divide responsibilities equally to avoid conflict later on.

4. Communication

Communication is a must. Weekly meetings should be set up to resolve all the disputes and put heads together for new ideas and also to assess the progress of the business.

5. Be fair

Treat all family members fairly, and also any outside staff that you might take on. Try not to make the other staff feel like outsiders in your family business.

6. No Sympathy

This one will be hard, but don’t provide sympathy jobs for family members that you don’t need. After all, this is a business and has to run like any other business. Before taking on another family member, make sure that they have had the relevant training and work experience.

7. Business over Family Disputes

Chances are dispute will come up, and when it arises, the last thing any individual wants is to adversely affect a family relationship due to business-related issues.

Most importantly, treat your business as a business and leave the family disputes and squabbles to the home. Your customers shouldn’t be forced to witness problems in your personal lives.

8. Ecommerce Websites

These online systems, when implemented properly, can merge the look and feel of the family’s legacy with the ease of online accessibility. Ecommerce can be a central business module and component, for being the holy grail of retail.

The website can seamlessly connect in-store point of sale and eCommerce while also inventory, managing orders, finances, merchandise, and customer service. These websites can also increase foot traffic in the brick-and-mortar when providing the potential customers the feature to “order online, pick up in a shop.”

9. Cloud Computing

In a similar vein as eCommerce, a family business can relocate to a cloud-based system thanks to Cloud ERP software like EMERGE App. The advantages are many:

  • Ability to protect and store enormous volumes of data;
  • Remote functionalities to be effective anywhere and anytime;
  • Implementation of automated processes, for example, invoicing;
  • Up-to-date financial performance, and also;
  • A big picture view of the family business operations to simplify tasks.

10. Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing

Person to person referrals has totally changed in recent times, with more consumers looking for recommendations via online sources. A skilled digital marketing plan can scale your family business.

Apply marketing not just to ensure a visibility on search engines and social media sites but also to drive prospective customers to a final destination: your site. Setting up a site involves functionality on multiple devices, smart landing pages, and user-friendly features. An effective marketing campaign on social networks and a well-designed website can scale your family business effectively and quickly.

11. Innovative Technology

Family businesses need to realize that technology is the big deal and it empowers businesses with tools to innovate. In a poll carried out by EY, 50% of family businesses indicated they will use extra finances to grow new products with revolutionary technology.

There are many ways to attain that. As an example, technology such as big data analytics will help family businesses realize which geography has got the most or the least interest in a product. And based on the results, business leaders can make a decision on where to market their products and solutions more. In this way, they can use analytics to know what works out in a market and what doesn’t.

Also, they can also use social listening tools and sentiment analysis to understand what consumers are saying about their services or products and then innovate on the foundation of customer reviews.


Keep in mind that passion leverages profit, so go for projects that at least one member of the family is passionate about, because that will drive the business harder, faster and more effectively than something that you do just for the money. Whether it’s cookery, music, health products or rock climbing, there is so much out there to go for that there really is no need to do anything other than something you absolutely loves.

The key to your family business, realizing that dream of a secure, successful future for you and your children is right there, right now at your fingertips. For the sake of the next generation don’t let it slip past them. Call that meeting today.

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