Tips and tools to help manage your family business

Family Day is being observed this year on February 18, 2019 (February 18, 2019 for British Columbia). In honor of the countless family owned businesses across Canada, we wanted to provide you with few tools to get your family business off the ground.

It is good business practice to create a code of conduct to ensure that everyone understands the expected behavior towards each other and customers.

A Code of Conduct is set of rules/norms that are established for family members/employees to comply with. It is expected that everyone would have a full commitment to conduct business in a professional and respectable manner and strive to create a trust-worthy authentic environment.

A Code of Conduct will support the dos/don’ts on how your company culture will unfold the business vision, mission and objectives. The Code of Culture speaks to:

  • Commitment and expectations of those considered to be managers
  • Commitment and expectations of employee behaviors
  • What is considered to be respectable and professional behavior
  • What unethical behaviors are not tolerated
  • Company Policies and Procedures

Family being the closest to us by relationship, setting professional boundaries can ensure that your communication is both respectable and effective, documentation is effective and avoids confusion.

Setting the right company culture from the start is a win-win situation for all individuals working at your business. Regardless of your size of business, it is a tool that sets the level of excellence you are expecting from all your staff.

As a CFIB member, you have access to a Code of Conduct template by using your membership ID and password here.

Have you considered structuring your team using the RACI method?

Recently, in completing my Business Analysis program, I became familiar with a business tool I believe can help small business. It’s called the RACI matrix and it is a method to understand the different roles in a team and to ensure everyone is aware of their own responsibilities. Understanding the roles given to each individual will reduce any risk of incomplete work.

RACI is an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. In your next meeting with your family members, consider categorizing your family in the following categories and decide who is:

  • Responsible: Individual tasked to complete a task.
  • Accountable: One who ensures tasks are completed.
  • Consulted: A subject matter expert that is called for advice.
  • Informed: An individual that requires continual updates on progress.

While this matrix is a tool often used for projects and has elaborate methodology, having these assigned roles will maximize your chances at starting a successful venture.

Often times when you’re starting a family business, “the all hands on deck” approach may get confusing and that can lead to a loss of time, resources and duplicate work in some cases – even worse no work gets accomplished as no real accountability can be measured.

Each individual assigned to your business, needs to have clear, consistent, and achievable tasks.

Do you have a clear direction for your business?

After you have developed your team, consider the following: using the GRPI method to further understand if your team has all the necessary tools to complete the tasks you need for your business operations.

GRPI is an acronym for Goals, Roles, Processes, and Interpersonal and it’s used to assess the effectiveness of your team.

Goals: Have all goals been communicated clearly.
Roles: Using the RACI method, do you have clear roles assigned.
Interpersonal: How the team communicates with one another, especially with respect and trust.

The above factors are straight forward. For this reason let’s take some time to provide further details on Processes.

Processes: What are the steps that need to be taken to complete tasks, projects, etc.

Your business requires constant goals and tasks, and accomplishing each to keep the business alive. A process can take shape in many different forms and can be communicated in the following methods:

  • Establishing a channel of communication (Email, Skype, Phone etc.)
  • Specific time for meetings (daily, weekly etc.)
  • Creating a procedure manual that has clear instructions
  • Identifying what resources are available for all staff
  • Everyone should be encouraged to provide feedback on improving any of the above

Just like the RACI methodology, the GRPI has further layers that can be researched online to help you with your startup.

These tools are used for projects, however your startup can be seen as a project – as you plan, review, and monitor and execute your plans for your product/services.

Do you have a specific tool/methodology that has helped your business? Tweet us at #CFIB


CesarCesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for nine years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar via LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @josuegomezg.