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Research on the coping behaviour of micro-businesses during the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak of 2001 in the UK revealed the importance of households to micro-businesses. However it was not just family members who helped businesses to cope with the crisis. Non-family members of households also took part in activities to help businesses survive declines in turnover. Whilst business families have received considerable attention in research that examines how small firms are socially embedded and the consequences of this for business growth and decision making, this paper explores business households and how these enabled small firms to cope with the FMD outbreak. The paper develops the concept of the business household, explaining it from three (connected) perspectives: work, consumption and people. It is influenced by an institutional approach to the household, which relates the organisation of tasks inside the household to political and economic processes outside it, and is based on qualitative and quantitative data collected from both farming and non-farming businesses in the north of England in 2001/2.