Is The Family Business Right For You?

Joining the family business is a little different than going to a typical job interview. You may have been told from a young age that this is your destiny. Or you may have been told the opposite: that you will have to start small and prove yourself. Either way, there is an idea that because the business is “family” that you may be a part of it at some point. But do you want to?

You may have grown up learning the family business. Thanksgiving board meetings. “Where are we? How can we be better? How can we better aid our customers?” You might believe that it is already in your DNA. You might even feel like you already know everything there is to know. But, when you look behind the curtain, you might have a different perspective.

Here are some things to consider before joining:

  • Work somewhere else first. Outside perspectives and experiences lend value to your family business. You may gain insight to new processes, different technology, and trade secrets to bring back. You will find for yourself how beneficial you could be. What made you successful? What did this company teach you? How did you grow? Could those things add value to the family business? And the best part…you will know if the family business is something you love or the place you think you have to be.
  • Do you align with the vision? When you look past a company’s culture you’ll find much more. Every employee in a family business believes in the purpose. It is critical the employees are moving toward a common goal, so that the company can move forward with momentum. Believing in the vision is a daily choice to get up and move forward. Improve upon failures. Revel in successes. What do the values mean to you? Is it something that you can have faith in?
  • Figure out if you belong. Your personal identity and brand is more than just the place you work. Many employees of family businesses live and breathe their company. Evaluate what you know. Ask questions. What makes you unique and confident? Knowing your strengths will demonstrate how you can build the business and why you may belong there. Or why you don’t.
  • Family business isn’t just genealogy. The family business has been redefined. There are family businesses out there who no longer have family DNA on the payroll. But, they still have the values of a family business. Every employee is valuable, not just family members. Without them the business could not run. You, as family, will start in the same place as any non-family member in the family business. A family run business can be more than just lineage. Get to know the new family. What about them do you love? What about them drives you crazy? Can you treat non-family employees like family? Ensure that you are a good fit. And that by joining the business, you won’t change the dynamic in a negative way.
  • Keep it professional. How close are you with the other family members in the company? Many family businesses spend a minimum of 8 hours a day working together. That’s a lot of time with anybody! Though it is not always in constant contact, you will also spend time with family outside of the office. Can you separate work from home? Is too much time with the same people going to hinder your life in some aspect? Professional time and family time do not have to be synonymous in a family business.

Joining the family business is not a right. It’s a privilege. It’s something you need to ensure you want. And you want it for the right reasons. Before you sign your name on the dotted line, make sure the fit is right for you. Just because you’re family, doesn’t mean this business has to be your purpose…unless you want it to be.


Looking for more information on Family-Owned Businesses? Check out some common challenges we help with.