Should you work for your family business?
It’s a question a lot of young adults will ask themselves, and proves to be a challenging thing to decide.
Do you go out on your own and make your own name for yourself? Or do you join your family business in whatever it is they have done for years?
It’s a complicated question because from the young adult’s view point, by accepting the new position they can feel as if they are settling instead of challenging themselves. Family businesses can feel like a safety net. There is also the misconception that colleagues and co-workers in the family business will view them as the “boss’s kid” and they’ll be treated differently.
When I was growing up, I remember two very distinct things my Father always told me.
“I don’t want you to ever live in Brooklyn”, and “You’ll never come work for me”. I never thought much about either of those statements, since at the time Brooklyn was a VERY rough neighborhood, and our family business’ office was in Brooklyn. So it made sense to me my Dad didn’t want me there. I’m Daddy’s Princess after all.
So I went on to pursue my dreams of being… an artist.
Imagine my surprise after I had been out of art school for about a year, trying to figure out where I wanted to go in life next, when I got a phone call from my Father.
“Would you consider coming to All-Systems to help us with some graphic design work?”, he asked me.
I at the time was biding my time by waiting tables, so I figured, why the heck not? Plus it could give me some experience and help me build my portfolio, so then later on I could get the job I really wanted. Right?
So I accepted the position, packed my bags, and moved to Brooklyn, and my Father placed me in the most entry-level position they had. Where I wound up today was a surprise, even to me.
13 years later and I’m still here at All-Systems and couldn’t be happier. I never went off to look for another job. I had everything I needed to succeed right where I was.
What started off as just an entry-level opportunity to design ads and do graphic design, later turned into being tasked with creating a formal Marketing Department, then managing Marketing & Operations, and ending where we are today working as my family business’ SVP.
In my journey I discovered the benefits of working for my family’s business far outweighed the negatives. Here’s my top five things I learned in working for my family, that you can experience should you choose to work for yours too.
They’re Personally Invested in You
No matter what, no one will want to see you succeed whether it be working with them, or for someone else, than your family. They’ll go over and above mentoring you and teaching you all that they have learned, because they’re not going to want you to have the same challenges they had in their own careers, and want to pass their knowledge down to you.
While it’s not impossible to find a mentor like this who is not your family, you’ll simply not get the same level of dedication that you will from the people who raised you. It’s as simple as that.
They Know The Industry Better Than Anyone
Depending on how long they’ve been in your respective industry, they have decades of knowledge as they grew your family business. Plus they don’t want all that knowledge to go to waste, and they’re eager to pass it down. Learn from them. It’s better than any college course you can take because you’ll learn it first hand and not from a textbook.
They’ll Challenge You
Your family knows your strengths, and your weaknesses. As a family, you have to cover each other and pull your own weight. If you are slacking, they’re going to let you know as well as give you an opportunity to not only improve, but become better at what you do as a result.
You’ll Have More Opportunities
There’s a certain level of trust that happens in families that doesn’t happen anywhere else.
If you have a new, out of the box idea for something, selling your family on it is much easier than selling someone else. They believe in you and know you’re as invested in the business as they are, and will trust you won’t suggest something that would hurt what you all have worked so hard for. It’s a true team effort.
Plus, many of the ideas that come from the next generation help drive family businesses to the next level. They have a fresh outlook on an existing industry that the older generation can appreciate and learn from.
You’ll Be Supported
Your family will always be your biggest cheerleader. They pick you up when you fall down, and will pat you on the back when you have success.
Also, if you find yourself in a life changing position personally, you’ll receive more flexibility and support working for your family business than another company. If the latter, your personal concerns mean nothing, whereas your family will want to see you through your tough time as quickly as possible, and when working for the family business you’ll see it both personally and professionally.
So when considering whether or not to come join the family business, think for yourself on what you want to achieve in your new career life, and what your family’s business may be able to offer you to achieve it. You may be as surprised as I was to find that it can take you much further than you ever imagined.
What does your family business do? Leave a comment, we’d love to hear what industries you are in.