“What’s it like to have a family business?” has been a question often posed to me. My standard quip is “difficult, but rewarding,” but I think you deserve a more in depth retort here. These times of change may lead some folks to pursue new jobs or business ventures, and my guess is that some folks will consider starting their own business with family and/or friends. The dynamics of working closely with either family or friends tend to be very similar in nature, and it is something that should be considered very carefully before trying.
Around the Clock – Being in business as a family unit is difficult for many reasons, but top on my list is the fact that once started, it is a 24/7 adventure. It is not like a normal job in that when the workday is over, you can leave it all behind and head home to the bosom of love and comfort. The job tends to follow you home when working as a family. It can easily become the topic of discussion at the dinner table, on the way to do the family shopping, during the commercials of your favorite TV show… and chances are that it doesn’t end when your show resumes. I think you get the picture here. It can become consuming!
Timeouts Needed – Now don’t get me wrong here, it is always important to discuss issues that are vitally connected to one’s livelihood, but being inside the family circle and with each of you directly involved, it can interrupt the normal ebb and flow of daily life. The lesson here is to try to find ways to escape the focus of business… not that I have mastered this over the last 23 years of AmeriBag. I realize the importance of changing the focus, but my own zeal to grow and manage the company has at times overshadowed the need to “take some time out.” My bad!
Checkups Necessary – Margery and I have lived AmeriBag since its inception. We’ve dedicated our lives to caring for our employees and trying to always do right by them and for them, while making sure that we keep the company strong, vital and healthy. It is the center of our universe in so many ways; our personal dream. Trust me here, your business will become your center too!
Playing Nice – We admittedly can clash at times, as will most family members in any intimate family setting, perhaps with even more fervor than in the usual corporate setting? Sure! Can it go from the boardroom to the dinner table? Yep! But I think that in the end we are better for the temporary angst, because we ultimately realize that we’re sharing the same goals, and love the fact that we share a wonderful trust. We have come to respect the diversity (most of the time) and can feel good that out of our individual strengths, and sometimes opposing views, comes prudent and well positioned decisions.
I guess that all this prattle is my way of saying to you out there who may now be contemplating or are in a family-owned and operated business, that it is important to keep your focus on the “real core” of your business… your relationships with your partners. You have involved your family with good intentions in mind. Remain true to them with trust, faith and love… and try hard to take some of those precious “time outs” away from the fray, will ‘ya?