Role of family in business

ELEMIYA phiri.

ONE Saturday afternoon, I entered Cream Land, situated at the junction of Lusaka’s Cairo Road and Chiparamba Road to buy an ice cream since the weather was unbearably hot despite being in the winter season.Hardly had I started eating the ice cream within the shop whilst seated on the stool than two gentlemen entered the shop and one man told his colleague on top of his voice; “Mudala sinizakayesa kufaka mubululu mu business yanga.” This when translated means, “my man I will never involve any relative in my business.” I kept on enjoying the ice cream and perusing the Saturday edition of the Zambia Daily Mail dated June 12, 2015.
From the above sentiment, I could conclude that his relative did not play his or her assigned role as expected by the proprietor. In short, the former disappointed the latter. His experience motivated me to write this article I have titled: Role of family members in business.
It is true that many people from different races across the world venture into various forms of business as entrepreneurs. They may operate as sole traders, partners, limited companies to mention but indeed a few. This depends on their preference.
The major driving force that compels someone to engage in business as a source of income is profit. When a business is profitable, it will be kept afloat amid competition. The business can continue operating as a going concern when the directors or owners of the business work hard and have the full blown desire. This will ensure expansion of the business.
It is very important to make quality decisions by those who are charged with the responsibility of running the business affairs. If this aspect is overlooked, the business is most likely to make losses leading to winding up.
To curtail this situation from occurring, there is need to have a dedicated team of people who can work towards realisation of the company’s vision, which is growth. This is because through teamwork, a lot can be achieved.
I have seen some business enterprises which operate with the involvement of family members and others doing so without involving some family members. Whether to involve family members or not in business venture is the discretion of the owners, the directors.
Most Indians in Zambia are running very successful businesses such as retail, wholesale and transport among others. The motive behind such a successful story is that these people are very dedicated when it comes to running business. They believe so much in team work by virtue of knowing pretty well that the success of the business depends on the input of everyone involved.
In Zambia, there are businesses which operate by the owners of the enterprises with their family members. Some have succeeded while others have failed. When a person yearns to start a business, he or she may be confronted by the question of whether to engage some family members in the business or not. This is vital as it will determine the success or failure of the business. In other words, you need to know the role each family member will play.
If you feel these family members can contribute meaningfully towards the progress of the business, it is worthwhile to bring them on board; otherwise you would do well to leave them out provided they won’t add any value.
To appreciate the importance of involving the family members in business, there is need to know the roles that these people will play. However, the family members in any given business entity should play the following roles:
They should be very committed to the business of their relative by working very hard. This should be done by ensuring that they play their roles according to the assigned duty without any comprise. For this to be done, the individual must feel a sense of ownership.
They should be self-motivated to work very hard even without supervision. In this way, high productivity will be guaranteed and this will ultimately lead to high profitability. This profitability will ensure sustainability of the business.
They should also contribute good ideas that will benefit the efficient operations of the enterprise because being part of the enterprise entails both working and contributing ideas. This will assist in avoiding some challenges that might impact negatively on the enterprises’ wellbeing both in the short and the long term.
In the execution of duties, the family members should exhibit high levels of integrity. They need to be honest by desisting from theft of goods and properties of the business entity.
It is mind-boggling to find that there are some relatives who pilfer goods from the business premises in the name of “Nivamubululu wanga.” This means stealing with impunity on the pretext that the goods are his or her relative’s. This should not be condoned in any way as it is detrimental to progress of the business.
There must be mutual co-operation between the family members and employees who are not related to the proprietor of the business. This is good for the growth of the business. This can be done when there is harmony among the people involved whether related to the proprietor or not.
Those relatives who are in conflict with the vision of the business entity should be relieved of their duties before they ruin the enterprise. It has further been proved that tolerating people who don’t make any meaningful contributions to the wellbeing of the business firm cause serious repercussions which might be too difficult to handle in future.
To crown it all, family members can either build or destroy the business depending on the roles they play whether good or not. It is therefore important for the family members to contribute positively towards the welfare of the business. They can do this by working hard, exhibiting high levels of integrity, being responsible for the assigned task and, above all, being accountable for whatever they do.
The author is an accountant and a business executive based in Lusaka.

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