Dear Dave: My two brothers-in-law and I have been thinking about going into business together as a side project in the real estate world. One of them is an architect and licensed general contractor, one has a successful painting business and I’m a chief financial officer with a CPA background. Plus, I had a lot of construction experience as a young man. I know you’re not a big fan of business partnerships, but how do you feel about a family business like this?
Dear Dan: Going into business with family isn’t my big concern here. I’ve said many times that partnerships are the only ships that won’t sail, and I’m a firm believer in that philosophy. I would encourage you guys to set up a situation where one of you is the owner, then figure out a plan where the other guys get paid off the bottom line — as if they were owners. Trust me, anything with three heads is going to end up being a monster at some point.
Here’s the thing about family businesses. When everyone understands their role and has the best interest of the company in mind, family businesses can be a lot more fun and more successful than non-family businesses. Statistics show the average family business lasts 60 years, while the average publicly-traded company lasts about 15 years.
So, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the family part of the equation. It’s the partnership aspect I’d stay away from.
Dear Dave: We just helped move our son into a cheap, off-campus apartment a few blocks from where he is attending college. We signed the agreement and are paying the rent because he makes very good grades. Do you think renters insurance is a smart buy? It’s less than $12 a month, but the minimum coverage I can get is $15,000, and he probably has less than $1,000 worth of belongings there.
Dear Kevin: I’d get renters insurance. My guess is it also comes with five or six figures in personal liability coverage, as well. That’s in case he’s out on the patio with his buddies, someone slips and falls, and they decide to sue because daddy’s on the lease.
In a case like this, because there’s so little to start with, it’s not theft or fire taking the contents of the apartment that you’re worried about. It’s the liability portion of the coverage that makes it worth every penny of what you’d be paying. That alone makes it worth $10-$12 a month just to make sure a slip-and-fall doesn’t mess with your life!
Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at DaveRamsey.