Starting an entrepreneurial venture is fraught with risk and uncertainty. After all, industry data shows that 9 in every 10 new businesses wind up failing between their first and tenth year. The reasons behind this daunting statistic are wildly varied. Although a lack of detailed research on target consumer markets and improper funding are two of the most common, starting a business with the wrong partner(s) can likewise set it up for failure from the beginning.
In this regard, it’s little surprise that most seasoned entrepreneurs warn against starting a new business with a friend or family member as their lead partner. What may seem like a safer and mutually beneficial bet can quickly turn into a real-world nightmare as lines between personal and professional lives blur. Regardless, some startups co-founded by family members manage to beat the odds and go on to great success.
Marc Pollack and his two sons Jordyn and Jake are shining examples of this outlier. Since founding Ziggy’s Naturals in July of 2018, the father-and-sons team has successfully built a company that provides customers nationwide with a complete line of all-natural hemp-derived CBD products. The family has grown their business through a combination of innovative marketing, partnerships with key celebrities, and a phenomenal story centered around Jordyn—a transgender man—who used CBD to help treat his anxiety and depression throughout his own journey of self-discovery.
What’s the secret to their success? They name the following top tips for working with family members.
Keep Communication Open and Transparent
Marc: “This is an obvious one, but communication really is key. Before starting Ziggy’s with my sons, I held a decades-long career in sports management, and still do! Balancing the commitments of running a sports management agency, on top of building a new venture with family, has been a big commitment that can pull me in different directions. I’ve always told myself and my sons that so long as we’re able to keep communication as transparent as possible, in both our personal and professional lives, we’ll have much less stress to worry about in both aspects. Just because we have a relationship outside of the office, doesn’t mean we don’t need to be clear about goals and responsibilities when it comes time to sit down and work.”
Jake: “A lot of times, people who work in a family business environment assume that everyone will always know what’s going on, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. No one can ever assume what someone else is thinking about or expecting, whether it’s tied to their own personal life or something business-related. You need to always be open to both receiving and giving communication. Treat every interaction at work as if you’re speaking in a professional setting, no matter which family member you’re speaking to and regardless of the conversation.”
Jordyn: “One thing I immediately noticed after starting Ziggy’s Naturals was my dad’s ability to talk to and treat both me and Jake just like he would any other employee. He emphasized the importance of establishing company goals and individual responsibilities in a way that kept us all accountable to one another. That kind of instruction is something that a lot of people don’t ever get in their 9-to-5 day jobs, let alone in a dynamic where your job is founded on pre-established relationships you already have with family!”
Establish Boundaries Between the Personal and the Professional
Marc: “It can be extremely difficult to disconnect from the business venture you share with family at the end of each day. But it’s crucial to the health of you, your family, and your business that you find a way to do this. No one wants to talk to a parent or partner who is always on-call or absorbed in their work. In reality, this can do more harm than good to your personal life and relationships with family members. Find a system of establishing boundaries between your personal and professional life that works for you, then stick to it. It will be a blessing to everyone in your family, not just those that work in the business.”
Jake: “Before co-founding Ziggy’s Naturals with Jordyn and our dad, I was working in an incredibly fast-paced environment in the world of telecom and tech as a national sales rep and lead generator. It was so hard for me to ‘flip the switch’ after clocking out and fall back into my personal life, which led to me becoming disillusioned from my tech job. I had no work-life balance because I had no boundaries separating the two! It’s something that both Jordyn and our dad have been excellent at establishing themselves and helping me to find since we started Ziggy’s.”
Jordyn: “A ton of entrepreneurs think that starting a new business venture means they have to sacrifice all of their free time and resources to prevent it from failing, but that more often than not leads to extensive feelings of stress and burnout. When you’re growing a business with family, boundaries between your personal and professional world need to be made. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself without any time to do anything unrelated to your business.”
Remember: Family Always Comes First
Marc: “This is one of the most important lessons I’ve worked tirelessly to instill in my sons for almost 30 years. No matter how busy I found myself with work, I always found a way to make time for my sons and our family, prioritizing and spending time with them as much as possible. It wasn’t always easy, and there are still times when it’s not. But no matter what, my family comes first. I have yet to live by that philosophy and have it end up affecting my business in a negative way. In fact, most, if not all of my clients, respect me for putting my family ahead of everything.
Jake: “Starting a business with family usually has the same end goal of starting any other business: you want it to be successful. When your family is in your business, it can quickly start to feel like your family is your business, but the more you allow the two to blend together, the harder it will be to prioritize the two separately. Our dad has been a great example in showing me and Jordyn that when you put family first, both your personal and professional relationships are able to thrive.”
Jordyn: “As a transgender man, I know that coming out to your family is scary. I’m extremely fortunate in that not only did my family fully accept me, but they have consistently offered their love and support throughout my own journey of self-discovery. Both Jake and my dad have been such strong advocates for the LGBTQ+ community. My journey has become part of theirs in creating and growing Ziggy’s Naturals. As a result, we’ve been able to establish dozens of LGBTQ+ brand ambassadors and celebrity partnerships.