Should I hire family members to work for me?

As a small business consultant, I occasionally get asked, “Should I hire family members to work for me?”  When you ask most people, the immediate response is no.  Even folks who have never owned a small business feel very qualified to answer this question with an easy and quick NO. My answer is slightly different, “it depends”. 

Small businesses around the world have depended upon family for generations.  However, using family in the “family business” is slightly different than hiring family to work your small business.   

This is just a simple list of things to think about: 

  • Why would you want to hire a family member over a traditional employee? 
  • Do you have issues with trusting strangers? 
  • Are there personal things you do not want others to know? 
  • Have you thought about opening the world of your small business to your family?  
  • Are there other applicants qualified for this position? 
  • What are the skill sets required? 
  • Is this a permanent or temporary position? 
  • How would you feel if you had to remove this family member from the job? 
  • Will this family member be working with, under, or over other employees? 
  • How often will you see this family member at the company and outside the company? 
  • Would this family member gossip to other family members about your business? 

Hiring family members to work in your small business is not an easy decision.  In fact, just thinking about it requires more time and energy than just putting an ad online for an employee.  So, doing things first like creating a job post, job description and a basic run down of duties and responsibilities might help you decide…and if in the end you feel the best person for the job is a family member ask yourself this. Can you counsel them, demote them, or fire them? 

If you would like help with small business advice and talking through difficult questions with an independent consultant, the UMW Small Business Development Center can help.  If you are a client, please contact your consultant to schedule an appointment.  If you are not already a client, you may register for free, confidential business assistance by completing a Request for Consulting form on our website,