THE BLOG

Seven Top Tips for Working With Your Mother

11/03/2015 16:21 | Updated 11 May 2015

However much we love them, for many people, the thought of working with their mother would be enough to turn their hair on end. But it's what I've been doing for the past 12 years since founding organic skin care company 'Odylique', with my Mum, Margaret Weeds.

In this article I share my thoughts on what makes our partnership tick, plus seven tips for success if you ever plan on going into business with a parent:

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1. Do something you both love -
I grew up around my mother making lotions and potions from herbs she grew in the garden. Her passion for the power of nature was instilled in me from an early age and I've always been fascinated by how natural remedies and formulations offer a better answer to health or skin problems.

If mum had wanted to start a painting & decorating business, I'm not sure I'd have been so enthusiastic! It's the same with any job and especially so when you start a business where the hours are likely to be long - you've got to be passionate about it.

2. Recognise each other's talents -
I think children can often be critical of their parents whether it's because they've got old-fashioned values, are technologically backward or otherwise!

Part of the reason our partnership works is that I am still in awe of how good Margaret is as a skin care formulator. She was a real pioneer in natural skin care formulation and there are few people in the world who could achieve what she has done. Our products have won so many awards and she managed to formulate an organic lipstick that's been compared in performance to those of MAC. I also credit her creams with solving my childhood eczema.

You need to value each other for the talents you both have, or you quickly become frustrated. Incidentally I do occasionally become irate at my mother's skills around a computer, but she does try! I'm sure I annoy her with some things too.

3. Make sure you have complementary areas of expertise -
Unless you agree on absolutely everything - does that ever exist between a mum and daughter? - make sure you're establishing a business where your skills complement rather than compete with each other. If we'd both been fighting over who can create the best shampoo or develop the best marketing strategy, I think we might have driven each other to distraction by now.

4. Have clear lines and boundaries of responsibility -
This is so important. Mothers and daughters often are similar characters and sometimes that can lead to conflict.

We've found the most effective way of working is to look after separate areas of the company. Mum is in charge of R&D, ingredient sourcing and our production facility. I look after the commercial side. We might share thoughts on each other's area but ultimate responsibility for results and team performance is down to that respective person.

5. Be honest -
Family companies can be nimble and successful if they steer clear of politics and sort through issues that make a real difference to operating effectively. Put another way, you don't have to be too politically correct and can say what you really mean! It can be a great leveller and help us keep perspective - and our sense of humour.

We're able to make effective changes far quicker than many other companies because of this and because we trust what the other is doing. In 2012 customer feedback suggested we needed to update our packaging and at the same time I felt we needed to rebrand with a more distinctive brand name (we used to be called Essential Care). It was a tough thing to say as Essential Care had been Mum's idea for the brand name originally. But she trusted me, we were able to take the decision quickly and (phew!) the rebranding has paid off.

6. Make time for family time -
Be strict about not talking about work out of office hours. There have been times when we've not stuck to that rule, and have been working so much together that seeing each other socially has (mutually!) not seemed like fun anymore. Although this gets significantly easier if you have children of your own who are desperate to monopolise granny's time!

7. Have fun, celebrate your successes -
Work needs to be fun if you're in it for the long haul and it's no different if you're working with your mum. You need to be able to have a laugh and celebrate success, because when success does occur and you've done it together it's fantastically sweet! I'm sure that each award, each great customer review - especially when we've helped someone overcome a sensitive skin issue - is so much more enjoyable because there's a double sense of pride as to who has made it happen.

Learn more about Odylique at Odylique.co.uk