Maybe you’ve started a family business. With a lot of hard work, you’ve built it into a successful one. Your hope is that one day your children will want to take it over and run it and even pass it down to their children one day.
While it’s never a good idea to force a child into a family business, there are steps you can take when they are younger to encourage them to think about the possibility.
1. Don’t make comments assuming they will take over.
Yes, it may be your greatest hope. But it may not be theirs. Or even if it eventually is, they would prefer to have it be their idea, not yours. They want to feel like they have a choice and that joining the family business is not their only option.
2. Be careful what you share about the business.
When we get home from work we often want to vent about all the negative things that happened during the day. We tell our spouses about the shipment that went wrong, the manufacturer that messed up, the client who yelled at us. But if those are the prevailing type of comments your children hear growing us, they will most likely want to go work anywhere but at your business.
Let them hear you mention the positive aspects of your business as well: the rewarding relationships you have with the customers, how proud you are when your product is selling well, how valuable your company is in the community.
3. Share your passion.
Tell your family the story of why you started the business and what it means to you beyond just the moneymaking side of it. When they are younger it may not be apparent why you take pleasure in running a video production business or manufacturing company. Take them to the office and show them some of the videos or products you produced and how they help people and other businesses. If you have testimonial letters from customers, share those as well.
4. Offer them a summer job in the business.
If possible, tailor it around an area they have shown an interest in. If one of your children shows an affinity for numbers, they may want to work in the accounting area. Or if one is an extrovert and loves talking with people, he or she may enjoy a customer service position.
5. Let them use your business as an example for assignments in school.
If they have to interview someone about a job, let them pick someone who works for you. If they have to write a business plan or work on a case study, offer your business as an example.
If keeping the business in the family is a goal for you, offer it as an option. Just make sure that option looks like an attractive one to your children. In future posts, we’ll discuss other issues with children taking over a family business, like what do you do when there are multiple siblings?