The Importance of Boundaries

Many of the common challenges that the families I work with are facing can be traced back in some way or another to a boundaries issues. When you work with your family the informality or lack of boundaries can be empowering, it can be what sets you apart as a family business. However, it can also be what creates the tensions that if left unchecked can lead to full blown conflict and the potential demise of the family business.

I am really pleased to be joined by Melissa on this episode to discuss the importance of boundaries and provide some practical examples and steps as to how you can start to introduce more formal boundaries within your own family business.

What do we mean by ‘Boundaries’?

Boundaries can mean different things to different people and can change depending on the context within which they are being discussed. 

Within the context of family business and in particular this episode of the show we are talking about the boundaries between family and business and importantly how they can help to “let the good in, and keep the bad out”. 

In the show Melissa and I discuss the ways in which you can do that. 

Listen to the Episode here: 


The Four R’s

Melissa and I speak about some of the principles contained within her book including the ‘four R’s’

These are:

  • Roles
  • Rights
  • Responsibilities
  • Relationships


When you consider these in the context of your own family business you can perhaps start to see where and why boundaries could be useful. If there is not clarity between you roles and responsibilities at a family level or a business level, creating positive boundaries is likely to help. 

We also speak about what we as individuals are responsible for and that some assumptions or misconceptions can make us feel as though we are responsible for far more than we actually are. 

We often feel as though we can’t speak our mind because that will be responsible for hurting someone else’s feelings. The truth is we are only responsible for our own feelings, thoughts and behaviour.

We need to take care with our conduct but we are not responsible for how others feel, think or behave. 

This can feel as though we are being selfish but it should also be seen as empowering. 

As long as we take care with how we speak to each other, being honest with ourselves and each other can be a hugely uplifting experience, it may feel uncomfortable and somewhat unusual, but if it allows you, your family and your business to move forward that is not a bad thing. 

When to start introducing Boundaries

As with many topics relating to family owned business, and without wanting to sound patronising, the best time to start is 10 years ago, the second best time is NOW.

If you are facing challenges in your family business and what we have spoken about in today’s show has resonated with you there is help and support available to you. 

If you would like to discuss how I can help you, click on the ‘Work with Russ’ button below and we can have a chat.  

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About Melissa Mitchell-Blitch

Melissa Mitchell-Blitch, Family Business Consultant and Author of In the Company of Family: How to Thrive When Business Is Personal.

A former CPA, her career started at a Big 5 accounting firm. As part of the Family Wealth Planning group, she saw the challenges of family business and family wealth. The cons often overshadowed the enjoyment of working with family. She was convinced there had to be a better way, but could not find anyone who could help navigate the intersection of family, business, and wealth. Determined, she left her career in finance and earned a Master’s in Psychology.

In the almost two decades since, Melissa has learned how families can thrive, even when business is personal.

When you work with family, business is personal. That can be a dream or a nightmare. What makes the difference? Knowing how to navigate well your differences and the multiple roles you share.When you are family, coworkers, co-owners, differences abound — opinions, values, preferences. How can you keep differences from being divisive? Through real-life case studies, In the Company of Family reveals the principles of boundaries, which will help you thrive even though business is personal. 

You can buy a copy of the book here for those in the US and here for everywhere else. 

IFB National Conference

Although we live in times of incredibly rapid change and uncertainty, one thing remains true: there’s power in people coming together. So, join me and The IFB on 10 June 2021 to explore:

• How to navigate this uncertain world to ensure your business stays strong for generations to come

• How your family business can remain agile whilst carrying forward its legacy

• Why sustainability is a family business imperative

You’ll get the latest trends from world-leading experts, new ideas and useful insights to take back to your family business. The conference is all about shared experiences and learning: join with other members of your family business to get the most from this experience.