Family Fortune

Family Business

My father owns a small, successful business. He wants me to join him after college. Is going to work for daddy a good idea?

This question would not be asked in most homes around the world. A son would follow after his father on the farm or shop, with no other choice. Of course, as a college grad you have many possible career paths. If your father’s business offers a chance for a satisfying career and/or income, should you jump at it? There are over 28-million small businesses in the US. Here are the pros and cons to consider before joining them:

The first consideration is the size and success of the business. It's highly likely that the enterprise has been founded by family members generations ago, so you'll have the gratification and support taking it forward. This will be your stake in the family future, something to pass down to your own children.

However, you cannot pass down a company whose service will not endure. Luckily, radio has witnessed 5 generations of Americans and Millennials now have broadcast, satellite and internet radio. Executives at Marketing Architects view their closely-held company as a multi-generational entity which owes its success to radio's enduring marketing power. Radio continues to reach millions on a daily basis, and the impact of technology on radio has been profound. The arrival of Direct Response Marketing has made it possible to track the real dollar-value of efforts regarding radio advertisement, therefore proving to be an incredibly valuable service for our clients.

In a family business, your opinions matter, owing to your position in the hierarchy. You don't have to compete with colleagues for a promotion within the company. You can present your ideas directly to the boss, your dad. With companies moving online, this can help the next generation make its own contribution. For the family at BoatCrazy, the younger members of the family create a website to sell and buy boats.

Longevity and security are virtually guaranteed with a family business. You can be an integral part of a long-term strategy to grow the business. There is a family tradition that you understood as a child. No doubt you worked at different jobs growing up and during summers.

On the flip side, a family business can involve working 24 hours a day. You cannot clock out or disconnect, since the responsibilities will be far greater than a regular job. There will be no sympathy from your father and elders, since they did more than you at your age. You have to be dedicated to the business, in order to meet family expectations. "Working in the car service industry, the drivers also felt I should work twice as hard, since I would inherit the company," revealed a future boss.

Conflicts with other family members are inevitable. You'll need some diplomacy skills working with close family. Personal disagreements can extend into the work environment. Family relationships can be strained when your business becomes intertwined with everyday life.

Feeling trapped is common with family businesses, when work feels like an obligation rather than an opportunity. Frustration may also occur, if your ideas are disregarded by others in your family. There may be no room for advancement, especially if an older sibling has majority control.

Never Tell Anybody Outside the Family What You're Thinking Again - Vito Corleone.

(John Regan is a former Director of Sales for equity research).


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