How to Survive and Prosper with a Mother-Daughter Business: Four Tips for Success

How to Survive and Prosper with a Mother-Daughter Business: Four Tips for Success

For those of us lucky enough to experience the special bond of a mother- daughter relationship, it’s easy to understand how building a business together is a natural choice. Nevertheless, as much as we love and respect our family, there are unique challenges that come along with starting, maintaining and growing a business as a mother-daughter duo. Before you close the door on this rewarding opportunity, take some time to read a few tips on how to survive- and yes, prosper- with a mother-daughter business.

 Tip No. 1: Define Work Responsibilities

 Chances are, living in the same home together for years has given both of you the chance to really see where each other’s strengths and weaknesses lie. Often, when family members run a business together they make the mistake of assuming responsibilities will be handled in the same manner as in the home. For instance, some households work well because no one discusses what needs to be done, it just gets done. Mom does laundry, dad cooks etc.

 In business, you cannot assume the same type of dynamic will exist. Yet for a business to be successful, every role must be clearly defined. Work responsibilities tend to overlap and having clearly defined roles will help keep chaos at a minimum as well as give everyone peace of mind that things are being handled. Don’t assume that because mom is a great public speaker she will automatically step up when public relations or media is involved. Take time to define work responsibilities and everyone- yourself included- has focus and is held accountable.

 Tip No. 2: Learn to Balance Work and Play

 Business is business and free time is not. It’s as simple as that. When you run a business together with a family member, it’s easy to blend work and play. You spend time together as mom and daughter and inevitably, the conversation leads to business. A few conversations are fine, but try to designate time for mom and daughter, or for “me” or to let mom relax without having to be in business mode.

 Besides, if work is stressful, setting aside time to enjoy one another’s company is not only a good idea, but also healthy. Both mom and daughter need a break and it’s critical you continue the pre-business relationship and not let it become confused with the business one.

 Tip No. 3: Have a Plan to Handle Conflict

 Moms and daughters have been clashing for years and running a business together does not exclude the tendency to disagree. Conflict in business can be healthy as long as you decide ahead of time the procedure for resolving disputes. If you do not set a plan in place, small disagreements will evolve into much bigger issues which will disrupt business. Take the time to sit down and come up with a solution ahead of time and save yourself- and your business- the hassle later.

 Tip No. 4: Have Fun and Be Realistic

 Finally, learn to take it all in stride. In others words, have fun with your business venture and be realistic with both expectations and accomplishments. If you maintain a positive, forward thinking attitude, things are more likely to fall into place. While it’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go as planned, it’s even easier to get upset with someone you care a great deal for. Remember to treat your family member as you would expect to be treated by a business colleague and reaching a common goal is easier.

Mothers and daughters make some of the best business partners. With mutual trust, respect and business savvy, growing and maintaining a profitable business is easy. Remember to define responsibilities, balance work and play and always have a plan in place to handle conflict. Have fun with your business and be realistic about expectations. Working together may be challenging, but the rewards are simply unparalleled.


You Can Do That…Just Get Out of Your Own Way

How many times have you heard someone utter the phrase “you can’t do that”? Who are they talking to…me? I think not. As women, most of us remember our mothers telling us we could do and be anything we wanted to…even president. Then why the negativity?

As adults, often times, that carefree spirited enthusiasm we knew as children gets replaced by boring, narrow minded thinking, leaving many of us scratching our heads wondering why we’re somehow unsatisfied. The business opportunity we didn’t take or the chance to pursue a career change- these are the choices in life many of us fear. Friends and family may even mumble “you can’t do that”. Why not?

Get Out There and Do It

Making the change is as simple as getting up and doing it. Regardless of what the naysayers think, the only sure way to get what you want is to simply go and chase it. Even running shoes are on board as Nike’s popular slogan “just do it” says it all. After all, when it comes to success, the only choices that are absolutely guaranteed to fail are those that don’t exist.

Take starting a business. It’s risky and exciting. Risk can be rewarding and oh yes, it can result in colossal failure. But that is exactly why the payoff is so great. What if Oprah was told she didn’t have anything interesting to say or if Condoleeza Rice was somehow veered away from politics? You get the point. Women have been exceeding expectations for generations. And while it may be a little scary to take the leap, the results are often breathtaking.

No Risk… No Reward

As a woman who has worked hard to earn an education and start a business, I have yet to limit myself. And I will proudly teach my daughter the value of getting what she wants by working hard and taking chances. I’ve never limited myself by what others say can’t or shouldn’t be done and I hope she won’t either. The next time you’re contemplating doing something others say you can’t do, whether it’s starting a new business or just saying something you’ve been wanting to say…do it. You just might be surprised at the result. Thomas Edison said it best- “I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2,000-step process.”



Don’t forget the Aspiration

Don’t Forget the Aspiration

 In my family, everyone worked- no exceptions. I remember as a little girl watching my mother. As a realtor, she was always on the phone and always carried a big briefcase. Often, after she would leave in the morning, I would sit at the kitchen table, pretending to be on the phone, stuffing memos and papers into my own pretend briefcase. Only I wasn’t selling property- I was buying it.

For many of us- myself included- getting an education, gaining real world experience and building a career occupies most of our thoughts. We work hard, we build a secure future. Don’t get me wrong, these are logical choices and a sound path to follow. But sometimes getting what you want out of life doesn’t come from reading a book or even experience. In fact, sometimes we forget the most important ingredient of all- aspiration.

Aspiration and ambition are the building blocks of achievement. It’s the spark that ignites when you think of the possibilities and the chance for your soul to imagine what could be. But most importantly, aspiration paves the way for brilliance. Ask any of the world’s most successful women entrepreneurs what they have in common… and undoubtedly, they will all say it began with a dream.

Sure, you can’t run a business on dreams. But remember, strategic goals and business objectives are clearly just dreams on paper. Taking the time to prioritize your business with well-defined goals and an implementation plan is simply another way to aspire.

As you pursue your own business, ask yourself if you’ve left enough time to dream. Look around and take a mental inventory. Are you achieving what you’d hoped for? Are you pushing ahead or falling behind? Remember, you need to chase your goals to be creative. And while tenacity will get you through the door, it’s hope that will keep you there. Whether you sell houses, trade stocks or bake the tastiest cookies this side of town, don’t forget the aspiration. Performance, achievements and success will follow, catapulting you- and your business- to the next level.


4 Lessons Learned from Tabatha’s Salon Takeover

Recently, while indulging in my guilty pleasure – Bravo TV – I watched the show Tabatha’s Salon Takeover. It’s not one of the shows I usually watch, but this episode took place at Salon Bridgette in Swedesboro, NJ, where the mother and daughter of the salon owner, Bridgette Orcutt, also worked. The dynamics between these women and the impact they had on the salon’s employees, customers, and overall experience was enough to keep me glued to the set past my bedtime!

After watching the show, I realized there were valuable lessons to be learned from Tabatha’s Salon Takeover of Salon Bridgette; lessons I thought would be helpful for the National Association of Mothers & Daughters in Business members.

Lesson 1: In a mother-daughter working relationship you need to hold each other to the same standards and expectations as everyone else on your staff. No “special” treatment.

The dynamic with Bridgette’s daughter, Chelsea, was a lesson in what to avoid when working with your daughter. Chelsea had worked at the salon as a receptionist for five years and seemed to enjoy working for her mother. While pleasant, Chelsea did not exactly have the best work habits – sitting behind the desk most of the day, showing up late, not taking things seriously – and most definitely was cognizant of the fact that her mother was the owner of the salon. Bridgette, as her mother, saw nothing wrong with Chelsea’s behavior or attitude and did not welcome comments from her other employees about her daughter’s actions. The staff knew that the topic of Chelsea was off limits.

Bridgette did not see how not holding her daughter to higher work standards impacted the entire morale and tone of the business. The daughter had no respect for Bridgette, so neither did the staff. “If Chelsea can break the rules, so can we” was the attitude and message. Eventually, Bridgette lost all control over the salon, her employees and, ultimately, her own behavior.

Tabatha was spot on when she said if anyone in the salon should have “led by example” it should have been Chelsea. As Bridgette’s daughter, Chelsea does have influence with the employees and should support her mother (and the business) by stepping up to plate and following the rules.

Lesson 2: If Lesson 1 does not work, then the daughter (or mother) needs to find a different place of employment. My guess is they’ll eventually come around and find the balance, respect and boundaries necessary to make it a great working relationship, though.

At one point Tabatha suggested that maybe Chelsea should work some place other than the salon so that she could learn the responsibilities of being an employee. Fortunately, however, at the end of the day Chelsea got it and realized how much she wanted (and liked) her job and would make the changes needed to continue her employment. And Bridgette understood she needed to hold Chelsea to the same standards and expectations she had for the rest of her staff.

Lesson 3: If you borrow money from a family member, honor them and yourself by setting up a formal repayment plan and stick to it. Empowerment for all parties involvement.

Bridgette’s mother, Peggy, was not a “paid” employee, but she spent most of her days at the salon, cleaning and supporting her daughter in any way she could. Peggy was also a source of financing for her daughter’s business. Everyone loved Peggy but it became obvious she enabled her daughter’s management style and did not treat their financial dealings in a business-like manner: meaning no repayment plan. Tabatha was eventually able to convince Peggy to retire, spend more time at the beach, and hold her daughter accountable for paying back the money she’d borrowed over the years.

Lesson 4: There’s a difference between being nice and being commanding in an authoritative and positive way. The latter is much more effective, especially in a professional setting.

People like rules; they like encouragement and they need to know what’s expected of them.

Bridgette had owned the salon for seven years but was not able to take her business to where she had hoped or envisioned. Like most business owners there were several indicators, obvious only to an outsider, as to why that was the case. Bridgette was a super nice woman who asked her employees to do the things they should be doing (as opposed to telling them). She was often openly critical of her employees (even in front of customers). She had an overall negative attitude, and a passive-aggressive nature (Tabatha’s words…not mine). By the end of Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, Bridgette learned to lead from a place of positivity, professionalism, and commanding in a constructive manner.

Are there any lessons you’ve learned from your mother-daughter working relationship? How did you establish boundaries and respect with one another?