What do companies like JCB, Warburtons, Walkers Shortbread, Baxters and Russell & Bromley all have in common? They’re all family-run. Here, we ask four Workspace-based companies about the opportunities and challenges that arise from working with loved ones.

Napoleon supposedly said that Britain was a nation of shopkeepers, but he might well have said we’re a nation of family-run businesses. Studies have shown that family firms in the UK account for around a quarter of UK GDP and more than 12 million jobs. Resource centre, Family Business United, reported that almost £50 billion of revenue was generated by the 20 largest family companies in the UK.

PricewaterhouseCooper’s eighth family business survey interviewed key decision- makers in more than 2,800 large family companies internationally. Its findings show family firms pride themselves on agility, innovation and the long-term view; in particular they are employee-friendly, far-sighted and nimble.

However, working with siblings, parents or spouses can present its own set of challenges – sometimes of Godfather proportions. We talk to Reza and Ali, twins and founders of Clic2Control at Grand Union Studios

Double trouble

Identical twins Reza and Ali Merzaee went into business together eight years ago after studying management and working for technology companies. Clic2Control designs and installs smart home systems that automate lighting, heating, film or music around the house.

The biggest benefit of working with his twin is that there are no trust issues, says Reza. “We know exactly what the other one is thinking.”

Knowing one another inside out also makes it easier to define roles in the business. “After so many years we’re aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we play them off against each other,” says Reza. “I tend to be more technical and Ali’s more sales-oriented.”

Spending too much time with each other is a potential risk, but Reza isn’t too worried about the prospect of the pair falling out. “Ali’s married and I’m not, so that allows
us to separate our personal lives a bit.”

Being identical twins can throw up its amusing moments, too. “We worked on a project at One Hyde Park that lasted eight months,” he says. “I was project-managing it, working with architects and interior designers on-site while my brother was having off-site meetings with the same people. “The project completion party was the first-time people realised that there were actually two of us!”

Naysayers will say, “Never go into business with family”, but our Workspace customers prove that not only is it possible, it can be incredibly rewarding and phenomenally successful.

Have you ever gone into business with family? What advice would you give? Share your success stories or total nightmares with us by tweeting @WorkspaceGroup and #homeworkmag

If your company needs an inspiring place to work we’re sure we have just the thing. Why not take a tour or check out what we have on offer? As well as having somewhere you’ll love to come to work every day, you’ll benefit from our Workspace Advantage and events.