Living: Here’s to the power of two...

FAMILY TIES Can siblings be co-workers? Here's how siblings can be successful co-entrepreneurs

English poet Christina Rossetti once said, “For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.”

Having a sibling is perhaps God’s biggest blessing and also fun and entertaining. Whether you enjoy making fun of your neighbours or playing pranks on your cousins, you can always count on your sibling to support you and be a part of your mischievous plans. As siblings, most of us must have grown up pulling each other’s legs, competing for attention from parents and getting into petty fights over the TV remote or a window seat during a train journey.

However, as siblings grow up, they learn to understand each other better and start respecting one another for what they are! They get along great and connect on a whole different level that even best friends can’t compare with. Because of the interesting mix of genes and similar upbringing, one also often realises that nobody else can quite understand their ambitions, way of getting things done and approach to life like their siblings. This is perhaps why many think of launching ventures together and some of these sibling partnerships have been great successes!

No wonder then that there are a large number of firms in India that are co-founded by siblings. Let’s take a look at what makes sibling relations tick at workplaces:

Playing to one’s strengths

As siblings, you are well aware of the strong and weak points of each other. Each one of you can take up work as per your strengths and weaknesses and manage your specific roles more efficiently. Also, with your own brother or sister, there’s usually little need to be diplomatic or hesitant of honest feedback so aligning tasks as per one’s core competencies can be much easier.

Healthy competition

Competition encourages people to push past their limits. With siblings, a natural, healthy competition is common since birth. Therefore, siblings are most likely to outdo themselves at work for the fear of letting the other down or appearing like the less competent of the two.

Emotional stability

As siblings can be most honest with one another, chances are that in a moment of crisis they are best placed to support each other. In case one of them is more volatile and reactive than the other, the other half of the duo is probably the best person to counter-balance the emotional turmoil and bring in greater clarity for the venture as a whole.

Advantages apart, is it always possible to keep one’s private relationships separate from work? Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of having your sibling at your workplace or as a business partner and how you can get past them…

Creative differences

It is quite possible to witness creative differences with your sibling. But, someone has to give in, or you don’t get anywhere. Creative differences can turn into ugly fights and rip the firm apart. It is better to understand the differences tactfully and bring about a change in the way things function. This is also why soon after launching a venture, many siblings appoint others in the leadership team with them to balance any tensions that may arise.

Family holidays no more

Is your sibling your best travel mate? Do the two of you enjoy exploring a new destination all by yourselves or taking your parents off to a luxurious holiday for their anniversary? Well, being co-founders of a growing firm may put your travel goals on the back-burner for a while. One of you will always have to be in town to manage the everyday workings of the company. However, looking at this as a short-term compromise would be wise. Once your company is much larger with different teams who have their own reporting authorities, you can certainly go off together or with your family every once in a while.

Blurred lines between work & home

It is possible that your sibling is a workaholic and carries his/her work home and spoils your holiday or a weekend by talking about work at home. The best strategy in this case is to draw clear lines between office and home. Have a strict policy of not discussing any family issues at work and not discussing work at the dinner table. This will also translate into a better culture at your workplace where people are encouraged to leave their professional lives behind.

(The author is a co-founder of FITPASS)

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Living: Here’s to the power of two...

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