Running a business with multiple owners
Recently I was asked a great question by Rob – about models/leadership structures for multiple business owners, for example, more than two siblings that run a business.
Firstly, it is a little bit more complex but very achievable if the owners are okay leaving their egos at the door.
Having a clearly defined organisational structure in place is the most important thing here.
I have outlined a basic one below:
Let’s assume there are four siblings.
Since they all own the business, they all sit in the ‘shareholders’ box. This means they also share in company dividends/profits, and they also receive payment for work completed (whether they are also the CEO/Operations manager or farming). But, if they stop working, their pay might stop, not their dividends (as they are an owner).
Creating a Board of Directors (each owner sits on this) is a great place to start, and you can set the frequency of meetings to every six months. Each director has an opportunity to help the business achieve its goals and give feedback to the leadership team (those that are responsible for the direction of the business).
And if there is indecisiveness, you can implement a voting system or a way to make good decisions without conflict (I know this can be tricky working with siblings).
The most important decision (and sometimes the hardest) is to ensure you allocate a Chief Executive Officer or Chief Energy Officer (CEO). Someone needs to be in charge. Someone needs to be the key decision maker during the board meetings and the person where the buck stops.
This position can be rotated around if you find each person has this skill set and desire to be the CEO.
It’s tough to run a great business without someone allocated to this role (it can be done, but it’s just hard). Those saying they want everyone to be the CEO are shooting themselves in the foot big time. Imagine being on a ship with four captains, and each captain thinks they know the best path to get to the destination, but all paths are very different. They probably all work, but it’s just constant fighting over who thinks they know best. It’s wasted time and energy.
We often find that one or two siblings/parents love leadership roles, and the other siblings/parents love farming. This is great when you get this dynamic right. You can really set things up, so people fall into their sweet spot.
You might have one sibling who is the CEO, one who heads up operations, another who heads up marketing, finance and admin, and one who sits below the operations manager and is just happy farming.
There is nothing wrong with this, just as long as you have a clear position description for everyone, and everyone knows where they sit.
You also need increased communication frequency the more decision makers you have involved.
If you need more help with this, then our Take Control program walks you through all of this in detail and helps you set everything up – https://www.farmownersacademy.com/takecontrol/
Many of the clients in our Platinum Mastermind program are in business with parents and siblings. Some of them have decided that it’s just easier if the more strategically minded sibling (who is allocated the CEO) goes off and creates the strategic plan, then enrols the rest of the family into the vision.
This is the key role of the CEO, to create a strong vision and bring the others with it.
It’s important that the partners/siblings respect each other and trust each other. Without this, it’s very hard to make it work.
The main thing that can stop this from working is ego.
There is a great saying, ‘you can’t have two kings trying to run a castle.’
If you have two or more very strong leaders, both wanting their way, this can ruin a business. Either one of the siblings needs to take a step back to allow the other to lead, OR you need to find a way to have two separate businesses (or you split the partnership somehow). This is another topic for another day, but there are ways around this.
The glue that sticks all of this together is having aligned company values.
The reason why a lot of family members can’t work together is that they share different values, and there is a clash. For example, one sibling might be super driven, and another isn’t. The one that is driven is always making the one that is not as driven feel wrong and bad (and vice versa). The fact is, there is no right or wrong. No one is better than the other. It’s just a clash of values.
So, the first thing to always come back to is your organisational chart and getting this really aligned, so everyone knows where they sit. But be very careful of having a flat leadership structure as it is tough to make this work.
P.S. if you want a brochure of our Take Control program sent to you, just reply ‘yes’, and we can send one to you.