A family business is a commercial venture in which family members are involved. There are many successful business that are family owned in South Africa, like Pick ‘n Pay and De Beers. If you are weighing your options about joining the family business, there are some important pros and cons to consider.
You are carrying on a tradition. You grew up with this business and you know it backwards and forwards. Chances are you have worked with the business in some capacity since you were a kid. You can’t take that kind of experience and knowledge lightly.
Pro: Your Opinions Are Valued
Your opinions are valued. You are able to give your ideas for new business strategies directly to the boss without going through a lot of channels and hoops. You get to work with people who care about you and want what’s best for you.
You can trust your family members, you know that no matter what, you’ll have their back and they’ll have yours. In terms of complementary skill sets, no one knows family better than family, so having that going into a business you can really see what are our strengths, what are our weaknesses and find other people to complement for those weaknesses.
Family members form a grounded and loyal foundation for the company and because family members will often exhibit more dedication to their common goals. Having a certain level of intimacy among the owners of a business can help bring about familiarity with the company and having family members around provides a built-in support system that should ensure teamwork and solidarity.
Families tend to be more lenient and forgiving when it comes to work schedules, work-related decisions and judgments, and even mistakes. In a family business, there may be more leeway to work a flexible or part-time schedule, or to choose your own hours, so you can tend to your children, parents or other family members in need.
Con: Possible Inadequacies
In a family business, business owners may sometimes automatically promote family members or give them a job even if they do not have adequate skills for the position. Just because the person is a family member does not mean he will be best suited to a given job, and a company that hires only relatives may end up having some bad apples. Sometimes skill and work experience may be neglected. Business owners also cannot expect all family members to love the business.
There can be a source of difficulty when it comes to issues on succession, sibling relationships, and identity development. Succession is one of the most difficult challenges that family businesses face and can become a challenge when the older generation does not permit the younger generation the needed room to learn, develop and grow.
Sometimes people feel entitled because they are a family member, I have the right to do XYZ, because I’m a family member I have the right to go on vacation, because I’m a family member, I have the right to X amount of salary, when in fact they don’t merit it.
Con: Conflict Of Interest
Another con is not necessarily the right to own, but the right to make decisions. So a lot of times, it’s not that one family member is right and one is wrong, it’s just that there’s conflicting interest. And decisions can’t be made as easily unless there’s proper processes in place.
Con: It’s 24 Hours A Day
You may feel you can never get away from work. Many family business members feel that, in order to hold up their end of the business, they have to be basically on call 24 hours a day. If you complain about the load, you are unlikely to get sympathy from your parent or grandparent. They may, in fact, delight in tell you how many hours they worked when they were your age.