One Thing – family business advice from Kim Lackey of Morley Hoppner

May 11, 2015

“Pull that Muddle Apart”

Who:  Kim Lackey, Director, Morley Hoppner Ltd. Ottawa, Canada and 2015 FEYA award winner

Kim and Kris

Kim Lackey of Morley Hoppner with Kristine van der Pas-Norenius

Q:  What one thing in your mind is critical for the success of a family business?

A:  “Pull that muddle apart and separate the business as much as possible from family.”

That “muddle” Kim refers to is the centre of the Family Business Venn diagram where business issues, family relations and personal growth intersect.  Keep business issues out of family gatherings and off the breakfast table. Similarly, quell the office of family dynamics.

Maintaining peace and harmony

“This is critical for peace and harmony within the family and business” Kim explains knowingly.  Easier said than done I suggest, having discussed business many a time at home in the 23 years my hubby and I ran our first business together.  How do you do it?

Keep business and family at a safe distance

It’s normal to talk about your work day at home or with your family, just keep it light, Kim suggests. Avoid heavy topics or the pressing issues during family time.  Know your boundaries. Similarly, keep those childhood sibling behaviours at bay in the office.  In other words, separate your roles.  Be a Director, VP or manager at the office and a mother, spouse or brother at home.

It takes practice

Practice and time help you build a strong discipline of separating business and family, Kim shares. And it is much easier when other family members keep the discipline too.

And when the circles collide?  “We try to address any conflict away from the office and home, perhaps at a restaurant over lunch.”  How civil, I conclude.

Q:  What one thing would you recommend a family do before it considers starting or becoming a ‘family business’?

A:  “Find a really good family advisor or mentor.”

The mentor does not have to be a professional and could easily be your CAFE PAG. “Joining CAFE was a very powerful step for our family and business”, observes Kim.  We are a very close-knit family. Having external, objective advice helps us manage the hurdles along the way.”

How membership in CAFE has helped

Indeed, joining CAFE can be enlightening for new family business members. They quickly realize they are not alone and that there is a way. Navigating the challenges of family in business is much smoother when you have that objective GPS beside you be it a wise mentor, knowledgeable professional, or personal advisory group (PAG).  It may be hard for a family to open up to an outsider but it is much easier than trying to find your way alone.

Thank you Kim for your wise words and congratulations to Morley Hoppner Ltd for winning the Family Enterprise of the Year Award 2015!

Kristine van der Pas-Norenius

About the author: Kristine van der Pas-Norenius is a family business member of the Ottawa Chapter of CAFE Canada and business consultant of 4Optimus Inc., the second family business she and her husband own and operate.