How to Start a Family Business: A Step By Step Guide

how to start a family business
Written by Oana Schneider

If the family’s financial situation is far from being the best, there are a few things you can try. Instead of looking for individual jobs, you can all gather forces and start a successful family business. However, before you start on the paperwork, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Read on and find out how to start a family business!

Assess the situation

Yes, before choosing which business to start working on, you have to have a brainstorming with everybody that you want to involve in your project and discuss a few things:

  • Make a list of everyone’s skills. If you think only your skills matter, you are so wrong! If you have someone with an accounting background, someone else with marketing knowledge and a really creative person, you could start a blog, an online shop or any other business that requires a lot of advertising and a strong accounting work.
  • Talk about the risks. As you may know, a huge number of new businesses die within 3 years so you better be prepared for any scenario. Ask people if they are willing to invest and how much they are willing to, if they have a backup plan and so on.
  • Make sure there won’t be any arguments later. If there’s someone in the family who’s really difficult to deal with, you may not want them in your small business.
  • Tell everybody the truth. Start up businesses need time, effort and pretty much all the energy you have, so you better let everyone know that the working hours are going to be long and difficult. The spouses may not like this very much, but it’s better to discuss this now than to have arguments in the family later.
  • Establish everyone’s role in the business: the seller, the manager, the muscles, the brain and so on. Create responsibility charts for everyone so that each of them know what they’re in charge of. Also, make sure the head of the business is respected and can make rational decisions.
  • Don’t be too harsh or too laid back. Yes, they are your family, but you are also part of a company, which means you have to treat everybody just like other employees. You can all be friendly on Sunday dinner, but business is business. If someone is lazy or takes advantage of the whole family environment situation to skip work, it’s probably best to let them go and hire someone you can really count on.

After making these decisions, you have to research the market and see what best fits the city where you’re planning on starting your business. Here are a few golden rules:

  • Offer something new. Don’t open up a restaurant in a small town where there are 20 other such places. People will be interested in your business for a while because it’s “the new place”, but as time goes by and other “new places” are opened every day, your business will slowly die. Be inventive and offer people something they desperately need but never realized it until you showed up.
how to start a family business

Before Starting a Business, Do Your Research Online!

  • Choose a good venue. Everybody is heading for the downtown, where the traffic is dense and people generally go to have fun and see what’s new. If that’s too expensive for you, at least choose something that’s not difficult to get to, preferably close to the main road. You can promote your business downtown by putting up posters.
  • Be appropriate. For example, don’t open up a tattoo salon in a town where the average age is 60 or you won’t have any success! Also, you have to think about a marketing plan and costs before anything else: what is my business about? Who are we producing for? What should they choose us and not a similar business? Answer these questions in the early stages of your planning and you’ll get a clearer view of how things could turn out.
  • Let people know about your grand opening by sending samples of your products to other businesses and office buildings around: if you are opening a restaurant, send food samples and fliers to bars, wedding planners and office building in your area. If it’s a hair salon, invest in fliers and have someone deliver them in every mail box. You can also ask a clothing store in your area to advertise your salon, since new clothes and new hairdos go so well together!

A few ideas that might work

Here are a few business ideas that proved to be very successful overtime. Out of everything else out there, there will always be a market for:

1. Online businesses – if you or your family has a talent for web design, writing, storytelling or anything that could attract people online, go for it. Plus, this type of business requires a minimum capital, no office space and you can tailor your working hours however you want.

2. Buying and selling –  There are so many things you can buy and then resell, from clothing to old cars, decorations, furniture to handmade jewelry! The only inconvenience is that you’ll need a lot of room of storage, but if your family has that already, there’s nothing holding you back. You can attend flea markets and storage auctions looking for bargains and then resell everything. You can have someone polish everything and bring old items back to life in order to increase the price. You can either sell everything online or open up a small boutique. However, make sure people in your area would be interested in what you are selling.

3. Food retail – as long as there will be people on this planet, food businesses will never die! We all need food, no matter our origins, if we like Indian or Chinese, if we are short or tall. If you have people in your family really into baking and cooking, give them a chance to turn that into a real business. You will need a clean and functional kitchen, a bunch of paperwork and permits of all sorts, but everything will eventually pay off. You can establish an interesting menu, have special offers every Friday, for example, and even put up a big sign advertising your delicious food.

4. Cleaning business – everybody needs to clean their house every now and then, not to mention the fact that office buildings require a lot of maintenance when it comes to their carpets, windows and so on. Plus, everybody is good at cleaning and you don’t need a special skill for that!

how to start a family business

One Is Never Too Young To Start A Business!

5. Event planning – if you have a bunch of women in your family that love going to weddings and spend most of their time pinning flower bouquets and colorful napkins on Pinterest, this could be the thing for you! Establish a good relationship with a florist, a seamstress, a furniture store, a catering company and try helping each other when having a customer: this way, everybody is happy and you gain respect and popularity among brides and future brides.

6. Daycare – there are so many small children who need a place to spend their time why their parents are at work that you won’t have a moment of peace! Provide good care, interesting activities for the little ones, a safe and fun environment and everybody will be more than happy to get in touch with you! You may want to hire a professional cook or put the master chef in your family in charge of the food, ask teenagers to help around by playing with the little ones and always keep an eye on your tiny clients. Schedule fun activities, trips to the zoo, if you have the chance, mini-concerts, history and geography lessons and offer them more than a place to spend time until mom gets off work: educating kids is difficult, but very rewarding! There are a few things that you’ll need in order to start this kind of business: a venue that is safe for kids (no sharp edges, no dangerous objects and as much fluffiness as you can add), a personnel that is very patient, a bus to bring kids in and take them home at the end of the day and a bunch of toys, maps and other types of learning materials.

7. A handy men company – everybody needs a plumber, a carpenter and a painter every now and then. Organize a team of professionals (you might need to pay for classes and special training) and let people know that you can do the hard work for them. And you don’t have to think small: from demolitions to kitchen renovations and landscape work, offer people a wide range of services and your business will be success.

Is this business going to make us happy?

And rich. Yes. You’ll have your family with you, which means you won’t have to spend long hours among stranger anymore. Also, if your spouse is working with you, you’ll be less eager to go home and hopefully work more and better. You will have something to pass on to your kids and a great reason to be proud of who you are and can do. Before you start going to interviews again trying to please every employer out there, talk to your family and see if you are brave enough to take this step and open up a business together.

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.


  • Very valuable tips Oana. Thanks a bunch. I’d say most people don’t like to start family businesses for a variety of reasons but as you’ve clearly outlined in the beginning, the plans should be laid out in the open and everybody should be given a task equal to his capabilities.

    I think family businesses can thrive if well managed and the good thing is that it benefits the whole family both financially and socially.

    • It’s not that families don’t like to start their own businesses. It’s that most families simply can’t or don’t come up with a business idea in the first place. You can’t just start a business based upon nothing or proceed without a game plan. Capital is one thing that might prevent families from getting a business rolling, though.

  • Thank you for the very useful and informative article. This makes any enterprising family out there that much closer to being successful entrepreneurs. Businesses are very complicated, especially when you’re just starting out. It’s nice to have a well-researched reference to make things infinitely easier.

    • A lot of small and family businesses are started by families that like doing things together, and that can make a small company very successful. I know a few families that have started their own businesses with great success, and knowledge is always power in such endeavors. This guide is simple, but it contains a lot of useful information.

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