What You Need to Know About Your Family Business
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
The following is an article “What You Need to Know About Your Family Business”
by Marc Primo.
So, you are one of the millions sent out to college with the overwhelming expectation, that you will come back and either work in or take over the family business. Let us skip over the fundamental question of whether or not you want to, and assume you will.
Things that you need to keep in mind:
Come back to Learn, Not Take Over
Taking over the business or not is a decision you can make slowly. Take the opportunity of having an all-access pass to a functioning business and learn.
Learn who does what where and why. Be humble in this process. Many will treat you like a brat and many will try and suck up to the future boss. Neither is right, it is up to you to make the most of the experience so take your ego out of the equation and listen. It does not matter what your economy professor taught you, when you first go into an already running business you need to take a step back and figure out how things are currently working out and why before you can even begin to form an idea regarding a change.
This is very important, especially in family businesses. Loyal staff members may be used to running things a certain way and perhaps in time, you can help make them better. All in due time. Earning the staffs respect should be a priority, and the only way to it is showing them you understand what they do and you are able to do things their way.
What do you need to know?
Who makes financial decisions (purchasing, employee wages, rates, etc.)
What commitments does the business have standing? Contracts with vendors, leases, management, or promises to staff? Written or verbal.
What are the company finances?
Does the business owe money? Are there any standing loans or debts?
What monetary roles do any other family members play? (It's not uncommon to have family on the payroll, learn about their participation and what it entails)
Some of the information you will gain slowly, and through many different sources, you can't just blast in with a questionnaire and start interrogating everyone. That being said, ask every question you can think of to anyone that will answer.
When you do make changes...
In many family businesses, there is a need to make progress. Change equipment or update marketing strategies. For the young going towards the future is an easy decision but for the previous generation handling things, it may be a bit overwhelming. Criticism will come, take things slow and show results. Win over your peers with numbers, and they will surely convert.