Franchise owners Chad and Tiffany Mussmon are pictured.
Chad and Tiffany Mussmon are the owners of several The Little Gym and Snapology franchises and manage the businesses with their children. — Photo by Chad and Tiffany Mussmon

If you could create your own fantasy board of directors, who would be on it? CO— connects you with thought leaders from across the business spectrum and asks them to help solve your biggest business challenges. In this edition, we ask an expert about how you can successfully run your venture while working with a spouse or family member.

This edition of "Ask the Board," features Chad Mussmon, owner of several The Little Gym and Snapology franchises. Mussmon shared his tips on how to work well with a spouse or family member who is part of your business.

I work with my wife Tiffany and our children to manage our franchises. We firmly believe that working with family gives us an advantage for growth, excellence, and a path to semi-retirement well before the normal retirement age. But it comes with calculated and mindful caveats that usually are not thought of with non-family employees. Here's how you can succeed while working with someone related to you.

Be clear in your operating agreement

When business items are open-ended and not laid out, they tend to be open for interpretation. That's why you need to clearly spell out vested equity, required time spent on the job, vacation, and pay.

Family members should also complete expense reports on time, just like all employees do. Doing this creates an honest work environment where favoritism is not shown and children working in the business are all treated equally.

Set time aside at night to decompress with one another and laugh. Communicate to one another and honestly say, "Can we discuss that tomorrow morning first thing? I really need to just concentrate on us right now."

Give extra praise and feedback

We have learned that sometimes we don't give enough praise to one another. We take the successes for granted and highlight the areas that need improvement.

It's a mindset that we need to fight. "Oh, she knows I appreciate how she led that meeting or closed that sale." The reality is that my wife needs to hear that out loud, just like a frontline non-family member on my team.

Don't be offended by constructive criticism

In our business, we use specific positive feedback with direct practice. For instance, "I loved the way you started the meeting today and spoke about our sales numbers being down," "Bringing that item up to the team really helped them focus on raising revenue," "Next time I think it would be great to add an exercise that helps the group practice real-life examples and provide a number that can be measured and they are all held accountable to."

As family, this method allows us to point out the positive first and then focus on details to improve — all the while showing grace and gratitude for working together.

Learn to expect more

It's no secret that when you grow a business with your family, they care more about the success of the company than a normal team member would. We leverage this concept to accelerate growth.

We all expect each other to work hard and only settle for excellence. When the bar is set high, it rubs off on other non-family team members.

Leave it alone at the end of the day

As business owners, we know our minds are always thinking about our companies, as that's how we are all wired. Fight the urge to bring a business topic up at the dinner table.

Set time aside at night to decompress with one another and laugh. Communicate to one another and honestly say, "Can we discuss that tomorrow morning first thing? I really need to just concentrate on us right now."

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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