Working in her husband’s family business wasn’t her life plan, but she learned to run the business without ruining her life.
I majored in communications in college and worked for 12 years in the media industry until my job was relocated to a different state. And while I was offered the opportunity to move across the country, several factors held me back and they all had to do with family.
My parents and my husband’s parents both lived within 15 minutes of us. Our son had the benefit of growing up with both sets of grandparents nearby. My husband and I had very special relationships with our own grandparents and wanted that for our son. Family closeness both in relationship and proximity was important to us.
Then there was the family business. My husband‘s parents opened a flooring company in 1953. His father was one of five children who all had at one time, a flooring business. I think it was in their blood. My husband helped his dad during the summers while he was in high school and eventually worked there full time. He had gone to college to be a P.E. teacher, but when his father fell ill, he put his family first.
When we were engaged, his dad sat me down to ask me what my intentions were for the business. After all, he stressed, all the spouses of his siblings worked in their stores. “Oh no”! I countered. “I have my own job, my own career”. Not for me. Besides I didn’t know anything about running a business. And I happily went about my career.
When my company relocated, I toyed with consulting for a couple of years. At the same time, my husband wanted to allow his parents to retire and he asked for my help. I had showed up at the store now and then over the years, and knew a little about flooring. I couldn’t help it. My husband lived and breathed it and he and his parents talked about every job, every day. He would spend the day with them, come home and they would talk on the phone about the next jobs on the schedule.
So when he asked me to help him, I first refused. Then I relented and agreed to one year, which turned into two and then five and suddenly it was nearly 20. I have to admit, I am proud of what I have accomplished with our business as I learned to be an entrepreneur and run a successful “Mom & Pop” shop.
Working with your family can be extremely rewarding. There is a deep sense of accomplishment that you can share with the ones you love. They get you. You get them. There will never be a lack of conversation at the dinner table. You are part of a legacy and never have to worry about the nepotism rule. In fact, you can groom you children right into the family business.
On the flip side, working with your family can be extremely stressful. It can be so much a part of your life that relationships between parents, children and siblings can suffer. There are days I want to run from the room screaming!
It is really important to find a balance so that the business and the family both win.
Here are the 5 Ways Not To Lose Your Family to the Family Business
Leave it at the office
Employees are often told to leave their personal lives at home. Family-run business owners should leave their business life at the office. Your friends and other family members who don’t work there may not want to hear “shop talk” every time they are around you. You may also be more obsessed than other family members. Waking up and discussing business first thing can be a turnoff!
Defined roles at the office may not apply at home
Are you the President, CEO, Chairman of the Board, Big Dog on Campus? You may be at the top of the food chain at the office, but that doesn’t mean you rule the roost everywhere else. Work and home are both communities that require cooperation and team thinking.
Don’t Pressure the Kids to go into Family Business
Working with family may be your dream, but it may not be your kid’s. They have their own dreams and aspiration and they may not be the same as yours. Understand that the next generation may not be carrying on your legacy.
Have outside interests outside of each other
Can’t get enough of your family and/or spouse/partner. You should. Get involved in events and activities that DON’T include each other. Discover other people and experiences. It will give you more to talk about with each other too!
Don’t forget to have a life
All work and no play is never healthy for anyone. No one will care about your business like you or your family does, but if you don’t have a healthy balance, you will miss out on the great things going on in the world around you.