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How to Lead Your Family Like a Business During Tough Times

Some advice from an entrepreneur and father of six.

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If you’re a father struggling to be a better parent, teacher, mentor and leader at home right now, I feel for you. I’ve been there. I have six kids, and I want to you to know that you are closer than you realize to the clarity and confidence you need to lead a family that you are proud of every day — especially during a time of chaos. You already have the skills and knowledge to make it happen; you just need to know how to apply them at home.

Business leaders can make great parents by applying what they already know to win at home. Parents like you can leverage your success at work to win at home because, as I have discovered, a business and a family have a lot in common.

When I made the shift to run to lead my family like a business, our six kids really rolled up their sleeves and went to work. They got serious about our identity as a family and our family brand of 2BTimms, LLC.  The kids came up with some initial concepts. My wife Ann then translated their concepts into something a graphic designer could use. We used Logo Tournament to generate a lot of ideas for our family to consider.

When I realized this connection between business and family, I found the clarity and confidence I needed to be a better parent. Although our family is far from perfect, my wife and I started applying what I knew worked in business to our family—and began to achieve unprecedented parenting success.

Here are my tips on how to build your family foundation by leading your family like a business — now and for the long haul.

Practice being intentional about chores, manners, schedules, homework, and being part of a team —which is your family. Businesses depend on growing people; so do families. The good news is you already know how to develop people in your business. 

Make every family member a stakeholder —who must buy-in to the vision. Admittedly, kids can be a tougher crowd than employees, but you’ve got a lot more ways to invest in relationships with your family.

Keep the focus on a shared goal. Try succeeding at work when everyone is doing his or her own thing. Not happening. Why would we think that approach would work at home?

Produce growth in pursuit of profit —If your business isn’t growing, it’s dying. It’s no different in the family. It has to grow to stay alive as it pursues the bottom line—a stronger, happier, healthier family.

Be a leader —remember that families rise and fall on effective leadership. It took me a while to realize I could make a difference at home by doing the same thing I did at work – step up and lead. When I didn’t lead, my family suffered for it.

Use systems and routines to succeed at home every day. Tour home life requires systems to function at their best. Why not apply the expertise you already have to develop better systems for your family?

Develop communication protocols to govern scheduling, meetings, conflict resolution, use of technology. The list goes on. You would never try to run a business without clearly communicated protocols and procedures in place. Why would you think a family could succeed without them?

Hold family meetings. We knew we wanted to be intentional about building something that would last and flourish as it grew. The same is true for families. Younger families can position themselves for future success by getting into the habit of having family meetings now.

The key is this: Don’t expect too much of your children when they are younger. Think of them as interns who are just becoming familiar with how things are done in the business of your family. Your expectations can grow as they do. This applies to all children right now actually. We are under a very challenging time and their world and routine has been turned upside down. Give them grace.

The best part of leading your family like a business is that each of us feels a sense of ownership, loyalty, commitment, and pride that lasts every day —regardless of what’s happening around us.

I hope that revealing and sharing how to incorporate and involve your kids while all of us are adjusting the “new normal” working at home, will help you successfully use this as an opportunity to engage and mentor them with lessons and guidance that will carry them through life.

Mark Timm is a serial entrepreneur and father of six. His new book, which he co-authored with Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington is called Mentor to Millions. It comes out in this September.