As law students, we are taught very early in our training that business and personal affairs should be kept separate. The idea behind this doctrine is s that risk is appropriately mitigated.
I still agree with this statement but not in the absolute.
My opinion has shifted in the context that businesses get their spirit from those individuals behind it. The culture of an organisation is often determined by those steering the proverbial wheel.
Whether intentional or not, the following aspects are often shared between businesses and those owning or controlling it:
Values are, in essence, ideals shared about what is good or bad and what is desirable or undesirable. Values ultimately determine acceptable behaviours and further attract individuals with the same ideals and repel those that do not hold these.
So, in essence, the values of a team consisting of owners, employees and other stakeholders, will all flow from the commonality or the variances between the individuals in the collective’s set of values.
As such, values underpin any agreements, codes of conduct, company policy or HR policy and dictates the manner in which it will be implemented.
Naturally following from the values that would be implanted into an organisation, the ultimate goal or vision flows from it. This means that the purpose of the individuals as a collective and what they want to achieve through the enterprise, is a point of departure. This often evolves into a larger vision separate from individual or selfish motives.
In fact, it is very important that owner and manager motives become clearly distinct as the organisation grows so that management focusses on the best interests of the organisation. Otherwise they may run the risk of favouring one’s interests above the rest.
Naturally, networks and connections are made by people. However, the manner in which these are managed in the context of a business is often a question of taking into account a combination of things. Notably, one of the most important is the purpose and context of each relationship.
Once the latter is identified, a suitable agreement should be constructed and executed. At the end of the day, a legal agreement should ultimately aim not only to consist of the negotiations between parties, but should also record expectations carefully, so as to be reflective of the true state of affairs.
It is important for the people behind a business or managing a business to share with the business and to do so strategically with a planned purpose. Ultimately, this will distinguish a business from others.