Don't let family baggage spoil a sibling partnership
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Don't let family baggage spoil a sibling partnership

Don't let family baggage spoil a sibling partnership

For many entrepreneurs and multi-unit franchisees, the dream of business ownership extends to creating a lasting legacy with family members. This vision often includes siblings joining forces to build a thriving franchise business. However, the journey from childhood memories to successful business partnerships can be challenging. The labels and roles we carry from childhood can influence sibling dynamics in business, so how can we overcome these challenges to build a successful franchise enterprise?

Childhood roles

Childhood roles and labels are an integral part of growing up in a family. Whether you were known as “the responsible one,” “the rebel,” or “the peacemaker,” these roles can leave a lasting impact on sibling relationships. When siblings venture into business together, these roles can resurface, affecting decision-making, communication, and overall collaboration.

These labels can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, they may reflect genuine strengths and qualities developed during childhood. On the other hand, they can pigeonhole individuals, making it difficult to adapt to new roles and responsibilities in a business setting.

Challenging old patterns

The first step in overcoming the influence of childhood labels is self-awareness. Siblings must recognize the patterns and roles they tend to fall into within the business context. This requires honest introspection and an openness to change.

  • Avoid “always” and “never.” Refrain from using absolute terms, like “you always take charge” or “you never listen.” Such language can reinforce old stereotypes that may no longer apply.
  • Identify strengths. Take stock of each sibling’s strengths, skills, and expertise. Recognize what each brings to the business that contributes to its success.

Leveraging individual strengths

Successful sibling partnerships often hinge on acknowledging and leveraging individual strengths. Once siblings have identified their unique contributions to the business, they can develop a clearer understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

  • Open communication. Siblings should openly communicate about their strengths and areas where they excel. This dialogue can foster a sense of appreciation for each other’s abilities.
  • Stay in your lane. While offering ideas and insights is essential, respecting each other’s authority in specific areas is equally crucial. Recognize when it’s best to defer to your sibling’s expertise.

Establishing a shared vision

A shared vision is the cornerstone of a successful sibling-led franchise business. Setting aside old labels and focusing on a unified vision for the business can help align sibling efforts.

  • Define mission and values. Siblings should collaboratively define the business’ mission and values. This process allows them to center their efforts on a common purpose.
  • Unified goals. Establish clear, measurable goals that reflect the shared vision. These goals will guide decision-making and provide a roadmap for growth.

Effective communication strategies

Clear and respectful communication is the glue that holds successful sibling partnerships together. Siblings must cultivate effective communication habits to navigate challenges and opportunities.

  • Active listening. Practice active listening when engaging in business discussions. Ensure that each sibling feels heard and valued.
  • Regular meetings. Schedule regular meetings to discuss business matters and check in on progress. These meetings can serve as forums for open dialogue.
  • Conflict resolution. Implement conflict resolution techniques to address disagreements constructively. Conflicts are inevitable, but how they are handled can determine the partnership’s strength.

Navigate challenges together

Challenges will arise in any business partnership, especially when family dynamics are at play. However, these challenges can be turned into opportunities for growth and strengthened relationships.

  • Embrace learning experiences. Instead of viewing challenges as roadblocks, approach them as opportunities to learn and grow together.
  • Foster empathy. Understand that all family members in the business are juggling two contradictory responsibilities: family and business. Be empathetic and compassionate to each other’s points of view.

Preserving family bonds 

Sibling partnerships in multi-unit franchise businesses can be a source of strength, innovation, and enduring success. By recognizing the influence of childhood roles and labels, siblings can break free from old patterns, leverage their individual strengths, establish a shared vision, communicate effectively, and navigate challenges together.

In doing so, they can preserve family bonds while building a thriving franchise enterprise that leaves a lasting legacy. Success in sibling partnerships requires a proactive commitment to both personal growth and business success, and it all begins with the willingness to embrace change and evolve from childhood memories to thriving in business realities.

Kendall Rawls knows and understands the challenges that impact the success of a family-owned business. Her unique perspective comes not only from their educational background; but, more importantly, from her experience as a second-generation family member employee of The Rawls Group - Business Succession Planners. For more information, visit or email

Published: November 15th, 2023

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