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Family fortunes

Could families who work together, stay together?

Intrigued by a bundle of stories this past week about family life, I decided to do some digging to try and make a connection between happy families and home enterprise.

My interest was first piqued with the alarming news that "a husband working long hours has become the fastest growing reason for women to seek a divorce" [The Sunday Times, 12 March 2006].

In the days that followed, I read features on two successful family run businesses; baking giant, Warburtons, where three cousins are currently in charge and car rental operator, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, overseen by Andy Taylor, son of the original founder, Jack.

You may wonder what bread, rental cars and the rate of divorce in the UK have in common but reading these articles in close succession got me thinking; could it be concluded that families who work together, stay together? I decided to find out by questioning two successful home-based entrepreneurs who have experience of such matters.

The brothers

My first interviewee is at the helm of a fast-growing retail business and equal partner with his brother. They started out together 17 years ago and are still going strong. I asked the secret to their success. "It's simple. He makes the product and I sell it. We recognise our respective strengths" So that's it. Their profitable partnership is based on a clear understanding of the other's role and responsibilities.

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The husband and wife

Thinking there could be an altogether different set of challenges with a husband and wife team who have to live together as well as work together, I called a lady who has established a cookery school, starting out at home and since expanded into several new buildings.

The lady's husband joined the company part time to 'help out with the figures' and is now full time engaged in business development. When I caught up with her, they had just finished a work plan meeting; maybe not your idea of romance but it could certainly be classed as quality time together. She confirmed that their success was based on clear lines of demarcation and, critically for them, separate office space in the house!

Quote�Success was based on clear lines of demarcation�End Quote

Two examples don't make for a trend and my second interviewee did caution that running a business with your spouse is not for everyone as it takes hard work, compromise and respecting the other's talents and traits. But then again, I can't see her divorcing on account of her husband working long hours; quite the opposite in fact!

What next?

No amount of business success is going to make up for a destroyed relationship and fractured family life. Find out about how to have a work-life balance.

You really can have it all. Emma Jones explains how to have both career and children.

Visit the Enterprise Nation website for more advice for home-based businesses.

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