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Look Before You Leap: What Children Should Know Before Joining Family Businesses

Having the opportunity to join a family business can be a dream come true or quite the opposite, a horrible nightmare. What I find is true for many children involved in family businesses is that they wished they’d done more “due diligence” before they came on board.

Some children feel lured by their parents to join the family business, and perhaps shortchanged because they were never able to realize their own dreams. Many children blossom under a parent’s tutelage, while others wither. Family dynamics can be significantly affected as well; some families grow closer as a result of working side-by-side, and others get torn apart.

The tips presented below are meant primarily for children who aren’t yet working at a family business, but they can also provide some food for thought for those who’ve already made that leap. Next month’s blog post will look at this issue from the parents’ perspective.

Before you join your family’s business, ask yourself some important questions:

  • Why are you doing it? Your motivation is important, whether it’s for sentimental reasons, you want to own the business someday or you’re passionate about what is being sold. Minus the proper motivation, i.e., fulfilling someone else’s dream, you may be in for an unhappy work life.
  • What’s expected of you? “Trust me” is not an appropriate response to a query about job specifics. Like any other employee, you need to have your pay, benefits, responsibilities and title spelled out in writing.
  • What’s the “end game”? Will you have the chance to buy the business at some point, or will it be gifted to you? To ensure no misunderstandings occur, define ownership opportunities from the get-go.
  • What’s your value proposition? Do you have the appropriate education and business acumen? It’s best to gain industry experience by working for at least two years at another company, and it’s also invaluable to learn entrepreneurial skills.
  • Will your ideas be heard? If you already have a hard time communicating with your parents, what makes you think things will be different in a business environment? You don’t want to feel ignored or misunderstood at work.

If after some soul-searching, you decide to join the family business, be sure that transparency is maintained at all times. You also need to create boundaries, for instance, calling your parents by their first names rather than mom or dad.

Since your non-family colleagues will likely think you have an “in” with management, you have to work hard to show them you have to adhere to the same requirements they do. If you are named the heir apparent, it’s even more important to gain respect, ideally by starting at the bottom and working your way up via your accomplishments—not your name.

Denise Federer, Ph.D - Owner, Federer Performance Management Group
Clinical psychologist and executive coach Dr. Denise P. Federer is the founder and principal of Federer Performance Management Group, LLC. She brings more than 20 years experience as a clinician, researcher, speaker, author and consultant to her work as a performance coach. | LinkedIn | @dfederer | More from Denise


What Would YOU Like To Know?

If you could ask a marketing expert ANYTHING to help grow your business, what would you ask?

You get the chance next week. On July 10th at 1:00PM Eastern/10:00AM Pacific we are going to have an open Q&A session where we address your top small business marketing questions:

  •   Where do I start? How do I stay focused on the most important tasks?
  •   What are the best low cost, no cost marketing tactics?
  •   How much do I need for a marketing budget realistically?
  •   How do I determine who is my target market?
  •   How do I encourage WOM (word of mouth) or get something to go viral?
  •   When should I start marketing? How far in advance of a product launch can I start?
  •   Do I need to have a website? Do I need to be active in social media? Do I need to be optimized for mobile? What activities are essential (versus a huge time drain)?
  • Where can I go for help?

What is your burning marketing question?
Sign up here (and you can also submit your question here in advance to jump to the head of the queue!)
I am looking forward to creating a summer surge in your marketing!

Jeanne Rossomme - President, RoadMap Marketing
Jeanne uses her 20 years of marketing know-how to help small business owners reach their goals. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she held a variety of marketing positions with DuPont and General Electric. Jeanne regularly hosts online webinars and workshops in both English and Spanish. | @roadmapmarketin | More from Jeanne


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