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Family business can be hard.  Heck, business is hard enough, but when family is involved, it can be even more difficult.  There are plenty of times where my dad and I have not seen eye to eye on a decision, and it’s trickled into our relationship outside of work.  Luckily, those times are few and far between.  He’s always taught me to talk things through and don’t ever let a disagreement linger.  I’m very proud of the times we disagreed on something, and came together to work on the solution.

But you always need a group of people around you to challenge your thinking and help you through the process.  One of the things I’m most proud of is what I call my personal “Board of Directors”.  These are people that have come into my life and who have become my rock.  They’re there to help me through tough times and are there to remind me to celebrate victories. They push me to grow and question my every move.  I cannot stress enough the importance of these people.  I suggest finding at least one of these people or groups and expanding your own personal board of directors as you see fit.  Here’s a brief description of the groups and people I rely on. They’re not in order, except the first one.  The first one is definitely most important:


Spouse or Significant Other

Your spouse or significant other has to be on board with buying into a family business.  There are a lot of sacrifices that can come with owning a family business, and your spouse has to be on board with the trade-off.  I’m not a part of the morning routines at our house because I go into work early.  That leaves Ashley 100% with the kids in the mornings.  It’s part of the deal we discussed when we decided to buy into the business, and we believe the trade-off will be worth it.


A mentor is someone who can help you grow and ask you challenging questions.  They’re there to challenge the macro level of thinking.  My mentor and I often talk about leadership development and more emotional intelligence type issues.


A coach fills a very job specific and technical role on the personal “board of directors”.  I work with a CFO coach who is helping me develop my skills as a Controller.  This person works on the very micro level of your job responsibilities.

Men’s Group

I can’t recommend this enough – find a group of people you can share everything with.  I mean everything.  Call it a life group or a men’s group, whatever.  There has to be a group of people in your life that you can call family who are not related to you.  Create your own or ask to be in an existing one.  They’re life changing.

Family Business Group

We call this group therapy!  (Just kidding – sort of).  This group is facilitated through the Prairie Family Business Association.  It’s a group of 6 millennial-ish business owners who are transitioning into their businesses.  We discuss various subjects that can be very specific to family business or others like what metrics they are using to lead their companies.


This is my own personal board of directors.  Start with one and start down the road to self-improvement.  Getting insight and direction from others who are not in your business is invaluable.  Take action and start building today.