My dad was a small business owner, he had his own physical therapy practice here in Washington, I learned so many lessons from my father but one idea was clearly taught, "Family is more important then business" Sometimes business and family don't stay in their separate little boxes, they get all mixed up, and this has the potential to to be good, but it can also blow up in your face and create bad feelings between family members that might last a lifetime. My dad was nearing retirement when I was getting ready to expand my one man carpet cleaning business and seemed very concerned that I was going to be hiring my brother to run a new service area. After all was said and done, my brother worked a few years for me, we got to know each other much better then we did before, and are now good friends, more so then we ever were before.
From what I have learned I have a few pointers for those considering mixing family and business.
Start with clear duties and obligations, make sure everyone is on the same page and understands what the future business relationship will involve.
Be honest, communicate, and do what you have promised to do.
From the get go, realize that this is a business venture and understand that it won't stay the same forever, therefore make provisions for all parties involved to have a way to end the business relationship without damaging family ties.
My brother found out that after a few years of cleaning carpet, that it was not enjoyable for him at all. He gave me plenty of notice, and then moved on to starting his own window cleaning company. In the years that followed I couldn't have been more proud to watch him take lessons learned from carpet cleaning and apply them to build his own business, and now we call each other often and I seem to be leaning more from him then the other way around. We just have to limit our business conversations when our wives are around, there is only so much talk about the service industry one can take before it drives them mad.