Life is not a solo act. It's a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us in times of strife. –Tim Gunn
No man is an island unto himself. –John Donne
You can’t conduct business in a vacuum, and you won’t achieve success by yourself. As you build your law firm, it will begin to affect your family at some level, and at some point you’re going to have to ask them to make some sacrifices, whether actively or passively. Your spouse and children may have to let you put in some long hours, especially at the beginning. You may have to ask your brother, sister or spouse to fill in for your sick receptionist. You may have to ask your parents for money. My point: This firm you’re building is a family project, like it or not—and the more quickly you can get your family to “buy in” to the idea, the easier it will be to lay down roots and really begin growing.
What are some ways you can get your family members on board with your vision, whether with moral or financial support? Let’s look at some practical tips.
Clarify Your Business Plan and Milestones
What does success look like for your business? How will you know when you get there—wherever “there” is? What markers along the way will tell you the business is moving in the right direction? A detailed business plan will help you encapsulate your vision so you can share it easily with family members—especially those who might invest.
Be Honest About Your Limitations
What challenges do you currently face? What areas of weakness will your business need to overcome? Don’t be afraid to address these issues honestly with family members as needed—and certainly don’t lie. Avoid inflated promises like “We’re going to be the richest family in town” or saying “We’re doing great” when you’re really not. Paint a positive-yet-realistic picture if you want your family to believe you and support you.
Listen to Their Concerns and Address Them in Your Plan
Integrating your family’s good suggestions is one of the best ways to help them take a sense of ownership in your firm. Give them a voice and they’ll get behind you.
Provide Regular Updates and Make Course Corrections
This practice matters especially for family members who have invested financially in your company. At least once a quarter, prepare a report or update to let them know the status of the firm—what is going right, what isn’t going so well, and what you’re doing to address the issues.
Clarify and Restate Your Vision Regularly
As often as needed, remind your family members why you’re doing what you’re doing and what it means for them—no matter how personally involved they are in the business. This action helps keep you (and them) centered during challenging times.
Celebrate Your Milestones with Them
Your victories are their victories—so include the family in the celebration! Commemorate milestones with a nice dinner out, a party or even a mini-vacation.
It’s easy to get buried in the day-to-day struggles of growing your law firm while forgetting whom you’re taking along with you. The more you help your family buy into your law firm’s vision, the more support you’ll find behind you when you need it most.