The Double Edged Sword of Working With Family
If your family has their own business, the question of whether or not to work with them will inevitably come up at some point. Society has many views on young people joining their family’s business. Some say college grads are under qualified. Others think that the next generation are getting hand-outs, even though they are probably making a modest salary.
As you may know from reading this post my family has their own business so this thought definitely crossed my mind. I also have close friends who work with family and it seems to be both a blessing and a curse.
Many parents won’t allow their children to work for the family business until they have gained the necessary experience and proven a passion for the business. Other parents seem to lay a guilt trip on their children to join the business. It’s a really tough decision to make and it can have a huge impact on your relationship with your family.
If you are in this situation here are a few things to consider:
-Do you have the skills and desire to manage the demand?
-Are you OK with blending your personal and professional life?
-Do you mind receiving work related phone calls early in the morning and late at night?
-By joining the business, would you be fulfilling your own legacy and dreams or your parents’?
-Would you be more valuable to the company if you got outside experience first, and then joined the company?
-Are you considering working for the family business because you assume you will get more second chances, more pay, more days off, and work less hours? If so, re-consider because the opposite is probably true.
-Have family members joined the business in the past? If so, how did that turn out?
-Can you handle working with people who know all of your “hot buttons”?
-Are you ready to accept criticism for your work from your family?
-Will joining the company continually challenge you, stretch your mind and interest you?
-Are you ready to talk about money daily-the most sensitive topic in most relationships?
-Are you willing to challenge the status quo to make things better, even if it is difficult?
I think the scariest part about joining the family business is the possibility for disagreements to ruin relationships or break families apart. It happens more than you would think. In my family, it caused a six year separation from my immediate family and our extended family. It’s pretty hard to fire a son, or quit your parents’ business because there is so much personal baggage at stake. Yet everyone has to do what is right for them to be happy and advance their careers.
I also think that parents are the toughest bosses (I cannot even imagine working for my parents right now!): they have much higher expectations for you than they do of other employees. Parents are likely to think they have the “right and obligation” to push you harder, to hold you accountable, and to make you learn lessons the hard way.
Again, I think that working for your parents can be the best and the worst of situations. I think that you would learn more about work ethic, dedication, and dealing with your emotions than you would working for anyone else. At the same time, make sure you’re not putting your dreams aside to make someone else happy. Also make sure you have a backup plan if things don’t work out!