When Work’s a Family Affair: Siblings Share What It Takes to Build a Successful Business Together
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"Knowing we’re both working toward our dreams with someone we trust 100 percent feels good. I’m excited to see more of what we can create together."

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The idea of going into the family business is nothing new: Kids inherit a company from their parents and, hopefully, keep it running for the next generation. But that's not the only way to work with members of your clan.

After years of working independently, these sibling entrepreneurs teamed up with the person who knows them best...especially when it comes to pushing their buttons. Here’s how they’ve survived—and thrived—in business together.

The Competitive Techies

Jordan, 32, and Joel Brannon, 33, co-founders of marketing agency Coalition Technologies

Back in 2009, marketing consultant Joel Brannon called up his brother Jordan and asked him to quit his job, so they could go into business together.

While there are advantages in working for others, there's always a ceiling,” Joel says about why he wanted to strike out on his own. “I also realized that even if you're as capable as you think, there are physical limits on what you can do as an individual. I needed someone I could trust and who would challenge me—Jordan was a natural fit.”

Still, the move was a leap of faith, given the brothers’ opposite personalities and competitive nature. "Sibling communication isn’t usually productive for a fast-growing company. Lots of opinions, stress and a lack of 'normal' hierarchy created challenges,” Jordan says. “Yet there is an enormous amount of transparency when you work with siblings that you don't always have when working with other people."

To add to the growing pains, for the first year, the brothers ran the business out of their shared apartment, initially rolling away their beds each day and hauling out desks at 7 a.m. And there were, admittedly, many arguments as the brothers adapted to their new relationship as partners. But over time, Jordan says that they realized the other was often right—and had valuable skills needed to grow a business. “That gave us a dose of humility that growing up and competing as brothers failed to provide,” he says.

Nine years later, they have an international team with 120 employees and are on pace toward revenue between $5 and $10 million. (They’ve also long since moved out of a shared apartment and into larger homes.) "Being in business has made us better brothers," Jordan says. "We both have a lot more respect for the other's input and are adept at finding ways to complement one another's strengths and weaknesses with our own."

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May 14, 2018

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