When Joining Mom and Pop Is Good Business

Last week we talked about the cons of joining the family business (review my CONS advice at www.AmbitionIsNotADirtyWord). Now let’s talk pros.

1. Working with people that you love and trust can be a wonderful experience, especially  if you enjoy each other’s company, share mutual respect, and have good personal and working relationships, including solid boundaries—meaning that the philosophy is: work is work; personal is separate. Daniel Kaplan, President of Cloverleaf Cold Storage Co. rejoined the family business after finishing law school and working at a major law firm says, “Being in a family business acts like a magnifying glass of your relationship. If the relationship is strong to begin with, it allows you to communicate so much easier and directly about business. You can have lively, frank, heated conversation and really go at each other with the gloves off, then look at your watch and say, “Where should we eat lunch today?”

2. Typically, the business is already set up so you don’t have to start your own from scratch. Plus, you’ve lived with the business forever; you’ve grown up immersed in it, so even if it’s by osmosis, you know it. So you come into the business with context and understanding that you wouldn’t have going to work for a non-family business.

Your boss is also your kid’s grandparent, so The Boss will likely be more understanding when you need to leave early for a soccer game or orthodontist appointment. Your family may even support bringing babies or children to work and working around parenting in a flexible way.


4. You get to see your parents every day. If you have a great relationship with them, this can be a wonderful fringe benefit, especially as they get older and your time with them becomes more precious. Your children really get to get to know their grandparents; they also have the opportunity to see their parent and grandparents as personal and professional role models.

5. If your parents are great, talented business people, they’re probably going to invest more into sharing their knowledge and grooming you than they would an outsider.

6. You inherit the goodwill reputation of, say, “family-owned business for forty years.” There’s a certain cache to that.

7. It keeps the money in the family.

Bottom line? Carefully weigh your unique pros and cons of joining the family business, think about it, talk with your family members about  what's  likely to be great about the arrangement along with what could go wrong. Also  speak with your objective advisory board members (read my "Get More Power From Powerful Advice" post on how to form and maximize your own informal board).

After you've done your due diligence, confidently go with your gut. 

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