Tag Archives: family legacy

Working with your family: a privilege or a curse? (part 2 of 2)

In an earlier post I shared with you my positive experiences while working in my mom’s business.        

To give you the full story, here are some of the major downsides of working with your family:

‘Mommy’s little girl’ syndrome:  Although it’s possible that you’ll achieve  almost instant trust with your family, you might have to work extra hard for other colleague’s respect and support.  Personally, while working in my mom’s business, at times I felt that my authority and competence were questioned simply because some of my colleagues saw me as mommy’s girl.

The shop’s always open:  Often times, for the sake of the business, shop-talk can take away time from sharing with your parents things outside of work.  It might even be the focus during family gatherings.  At times I felt that I was loosing access to the personal side of my mom because we were mainly talking shop.  However after some time I realized that nothing was lost.  It was more a case that our relationship was changing and evolving.

Increased tension:  Undoubtedly adding the business dimension to a family relationship is bound to increase the tension.  Be prepared for there to be differences of opinion on matters that impact more than at what time you can borrow the family car or at what time you can come back from a party.  In our family’s case the tension was manageable and did not have any lasting negative effects, but I can certainly see how working with parents can easily hurt relationships which are fragile to begin with.

Un-real expectations:  While the risks of working in a family business are real – it’s your inheritance that’s on the line – it’s possible that your family will be unrealistically kind and understanding towards you.  Personally, I experienced a mini-rude awakening when I went to work at other organizations, in the ‘real world’.  To begin with my bosses were not as nurturing and forgiving as only a parent can be.

Too comfortable to grow:  If your parents tend to be protective of you, it might lead to you getting too comfortable.  Although my mom is very demanding of me, I know that at the end of the day she’s bound to forgive me.  Knowing this made me a bit soft and at times I found myself not pushing myself as far as I tended to in other organizations.

If like me you have the option to work in your family’s business, the best approach would be to get experience in other organizations – say for 2 to 5 years – and then go carry your family’s torch.  The reasoning behind this is very much in line with what I wrote in an earlier post about college graduates with entrepreneurial spirits (like me) getting a day job before jumping in to their own business.

What do you think?

(Photo from Jill Greenberg’s exhibition End of Times)

Working with your family: a privilege or a curse? (part 1 of 2)

Based on my experience working in and out of my family’s business, I know that while there certainly are advantages, working with parents is not all fun and games.

Here I share with you the major perks that I lived in my first job out of college while working as the assistant manager of my mom’s restaurant group. (In my next post you’ll hear the other side of the story)

This is part of my inheritance – I trust that you’ll spend it wisely:

Trust and responsibility:  If like me you have a solid relationship with your parents, working in their business could mean that you reach a level of trust and responsibility that you’ll find hard to match in any other organization.  I found this to be the case particularly when I worked in entry-level jobs at other companies.  While I felt I was trusted, I was never really entrusted with the level of responsibilities that I had almost since day one when I was working with my mom’s business.

Quick approval for projects:  Because of the high level of trust, it’s quite possible that your projects will be approved faster than in any other organization.  After all it’s likely that you’ll have more pull with the decision maker.

Ups expectations:  Admittedly taking on more responsibilities in an entry level job can mean a steeper learning curve.  However, it can also set a higher benchmark for your career.  (Later I’ll talk about the downside of that)

Easy access to a solid network:  By association with your parents, it is quite possible that you’ll have faster access to a network of decision makers, key opinion leaders and other people high up in the pecking order in the business community.  Personally, I discovered that developing the same level of rapport on my own took longer.

Carry the torch:  Working in the family business means that you’ll play an integral part in continuing your family’s legacy – which some day you’ll be able to pass on to your own children. 

Bonding:  By virtue of experiencing more things with your parents, like facing the challenges of running a business, you’ll end up bonding more with them.  I found that I got to know things about my mom that I otherwise wouldn’t, like her gift for influencing others without being authoritative.

I’d LOVE to learn from your experiences.

And stay tuned for the other side of the story.