Family Business

Women making family business stronger


5 min




Watch the Raphaely family, a second-generation media and publishing business family based in Western Cape, South Africa, operating and producing international titles such as Cosmopolitan, O The Oprah Magazine, Good Housekeeping and Marie Claire as well as local titles including Goeie Huishouding and House and Leisure, share their view of the importance of building a strong family foundation in order to generate success in the business. In a family business, the relationship among members has a great effect on the performance of the business. It is important in a family business, to quickly resolve family issues and maintain a professional relationship at work in order to be able to effectively work with one another.



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Julia Raphaely
It is difficult to balance a relationship between work and family when they are both one and the same thing. You know, we all are careful and we try, but it does creep in, and I think you have just got to be as disciplined as you can about it.

I do not think you can ever compare working with a colleague, and working with a family member who is also a colleague. I mean, they are so fundamentally different. For starters, I mean, you have to be incredibly careful not to slip back into your sibling role, or your parent-to-sibling, or your parent-to-parent, and that is quite hard if you are a close family, not to sort of switch back.

Vanessa Raphaely
I think we have to be less sisterly at work and at home and more professional at ... View More work and at home, I think is the truth. You do not have the- it is not the same because work can spread into everything, and successes and failures can pollute lots of families. To make the difference clear is very hard, so the way we have done it is, I think, there has been control and moderation on both sides. We have also had to put some distance in place at times, take a deep breath, step away.

Julia Raphaely
But I think the older you get, the more practiced you are, and the more you do not let things become as personal as they are when you are younger and trying to prove yourself.

I would say in terms of working with family members, it has probably been one of the biggest growth areas for me as a person. It has been challenging at times, we do not always agree, and we are all opinionated. When you have a disagreement in a family, it is obviously a lot more personal, because you go home and on the weekend you have to see your family member again, you do not have to, but you know, you would like to. So you have to deal with issues even if they are hard. When you have a strong family culture, where you come together for family events outside of business, you are almost forced to forget about your issues, and you are forced back into a family situation. And then it becomes not as important when you go back to work on Monday.

A lot of people say you should have guidelines; there should be formalized agreements, contracts. At the end of the day, contracts are there to be put in a drawer, it is not going to help you if have a contract, and as a family you cannot work together. You either can work together, and you are committed to making it work, or you are not. And I think you need to have a very strong foundation, because if you do not, if there are cracks in your relationships already, they are only going to be made bigger. You are going to be manipulated by people in the business; you are going to be played off against each other. And you have to be aware of that.

Vanessa Raphaely
You take a long view, and also, if one is kind to oneself, you understand that human beings are messy, and that again if the ultimate vision is aligned, and sometimes it is easier to speak about the ultimate vision than about the slings and arrows of the now, and that has always kept us going. And that vision has been the prosperity, and the security, and the safety, and the stimulation and happiness of the whole family. That is what we are doing this for.

Julia Raphaely
When it comes down to it, that is the most important thing, you can disagree, you can choose your battles but at the end of the day the success of the business, and how that will reflect on the family, and how that will have repercussions for the family, is actually what drives you. You want to build something which is a success. I am very proud of the fact that as a family we have actually managed to grow and build on a successful business, and grow something together, and we still love each other and respect each other.