By Claire West
A YouGov poll released today revealed that 53% of the British population would not go into business with a family member, with just under two thirds (64%) of these people saying it would be too complicated, and around one in eight (13%) worrying that having an argument about the business could cause irreconcilable difficulties in their relationship.
However it’s clear that family ties still count: of the 44% who said they would start a business with a family member, a resounding 70% said they would do so because they could trust their family completely.
The survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf of commercial solicitors Shulmans LLP, also revealed that the ‘other half’ is the most popular choice of a family business partner, with 29% of those who would go into business with a family member declaring they’d most like to do this with their life partner. Interestingly, those couples already married or in a civil partnership were keener on going into business with their partner than those couples living together as married (46% vs. 31%), perhaps indicating that the signing of one legal contract makes husbands and wives more relaxed about making another commitment with the same person.
Over a third (38%) of those who would go into business with a family member would do so because they know they would be able to resolve any arguments. This is despite 57% of the British population admitting they argue with their family, with 11% saying they argued most about money. Yet over one in three respondents (38%) who would go into business with a family member said it would be easier because there would be less formality involved.
Jeremy Shulman, chairman of Shulmans LLP, said: “There are many good reasons to go into business with a family member, the most popular of which being that you trust one another. However this is the very reason why you should protect yourself, and your business, by making sure suitable legal measures are in place.”
“No matter how well one gets on with one’s relatives, a major disagreement over something to do with a business may well occur; people once certain they all agreed on every issue suddenly find they have very different ideas on a deal, or the direction of business growth and expansion. Or it can be that a family issue spills over into the business and the partners suddenly can’t bear to be in the same room as one another,” said Jeremy.
“This is why family must treat going into business with one another as exactly that; a business decision reached objectively and not as an extension of their family life.”
“This is particularly pertinent for those married couples who go into business together. A marriage may end but you can still be tied together through business with the ensuing financial knots that must be untangled. The family home might have been mortgaged to guarantee a business loan, for example. It is often not until crisis point has been reached when the lawyers are called in, instead of at the outset.”