The Pros And Cons Of Requiring Children To First Work Outside The Family Business

wealthymattersGenerally,the term ‘family business‘ evokes plenty of envy,fueled by images of no-account inheritors living it up,even as other meritorious souls in society don’t get a chance to take the easy road to the good life…….of concentration of wealth in the hands of the few,to the detriment of all others.

Under the circumstances,business schools,family-business consultants and the media today,feel the need to recommend that people work for at least 5 and sometimes 10+years outside the family business.In fact the education system feels the need to socialize children to seek success in fields far removed from their parents own occupation.Besides business families themselves feel it good PR today to talk of how their children won their spurs outside the family business and so are not mere inheritors.

Here are the pros of first requiring family members to work elsewhere before entering the family business :

  1. As people work hard and achieve success, including promotions and pay raises, on their own,they have a sense of accomplishment that  provides confidence and self-assurance, which enhances their role in the family business.
  2. People gain exposure to other business cultures. As our business philosophies are shaped by our experiences,being exposed to different business cultures and practices help focus the next generation on the types of culture and practices they would like to see in their own family business.
  3. People might develop a skill set that may complement the family business and that might not otherwise have been developed. Family members may have the opportunity to work in positions in another business that may not have been available to them had they immediately joined the family business. Plus, if the work in the external business is somewhat related to the family business, exposure to new markets or new product ideas may ultimately enhance the effectiveness of the individual when returning to the family business.
  4. Working outside the family business will let people be certain that they really want to work in the family business and that they had the opportunity to do something else with their lives ,if that’s what they wished to do.

But there are cons you can’t ignore too :

1.Five years,let alone 10 years,is really a very long time.People whose start-ups cross these mile-stones might never really look back.Ditto for successful professionals.So parents who ride their talented and competent children too hard,might find that they have truly ridden them out of the family business.

2.Business is a team sport.So families that encourage members to fiercely compete against each other to demonstrate the greatest individual merit and success, might find that they no longer have a team that plays well together.

So family business leaders who don’t wish to deal with the wealth envy of society and/or wish to avoid the unpleasantness of being the boss rather than indulgent parent and so feel that its best that their children get their butts kicked outside the family business, don’t have the luxury of pleasing all people all the time and avoiding all conflict without risking the possibility of being left with no able and willing successors to the businesses they built and nurtured.Its best to have a continuing dialogue with children about how dearly you would love to have them carry on the legacy of the family business,even as they grow and develop their own skills and talents and develop their individuality.Without this sort of mutual accommodation,family businesses are unlikely to remain family businesses,led and managed by family.

About Keerthika Singaravel

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