That’s a Dysfunctional Business Not a Family

When someone I’m considering working with says, “we’re a family” or anything similar about their business relationships, I start backing away slowly. I’ve almost written this post a few times, but held off because well… family is an almost universal virtue. Although most families are located someplace along the dysfunctional spectrum, people seem wired to stick it out with the folks sharing their bloodline. The number of people I know maintaining relationships with toxic siblings, partners, and extended family is shockingly high. While at some point (even with family), a time comes to kick terrible people out of your life. But you don’t leave Grandma at the curb when her dementia renders her unable to cook Thanksgiving dinner. Nor do you withhold food from your dumbest child under the assumption the nutrients should be allocated only for the smart. That is not the case in business unless your goal is running a dysfunctional company. I run a digital ad agency, and guess what? Not one of our clients would renew a contract if they decided that paying our firm no longer makes business sense. We are not a family; we are trading partners. If they stop paying us, we will stop working. And, much as I hate lawsuits, our contracts specify the jurisdiction in which any litigation must take place.  The employee/employer dynamic is not quite the same, but it’s close. It is still a trade relationship. At best, it may be tribal, but not familial. Companies don’t, as a…That’s a Dysfunctional Business Not a Family

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