One of the great questions in a family business is should I hire my children. Here’s the problem you might have. If you wait till you’re children are young adults you could be too late to answer this question. You might not have done all the things you need to make sure your children are able to join you in business.
Watch my video to learn what I think you need to be doing to have your business be an attractive place for your children and have them be ready to join your business.
We’re going to talk about “Should you bring your children into your business?” The first question you need to answer is “Do you want to bring your children into the business?” If the answer is yes, there are some very specific things that you can be doing that will help you get to the point where your children will be not only wanting to join you in your business, they’ll be enthusiastic about joining you in your business.
Here’s the problem, you can’t wait until the kids are 20, 21 and 25 years old before you start recruiting them to join your business. The real good time for you to start recruiting your children is when they’re 7-, 8-, 9- and 10 years old. Here’s why. If you wait until your kids are 18, 21 or 25 years old before you start talking to them about joining your business, there is a good chance they found other things they would rather do. There’s also a really good chance they’ve only heard you whining about your business and complaining about all the things that you don’t like about it, so you stop doing that.
Don’t complain about your business at home. It’s okay to do it once in a while. But also, make sure you talk about the good things that are happening in your business – the things that you like to see, the things that are fun, the things that make you and get excited and want to get up in the morning to do that.
Let’s say, “Yes, I do want to have my children join me in business. My children are 7- to 10 years old.” Well, there’s no reason that you can’t take them to your office with you on the weekends. There is no reason you can’t have them doing age-appropriate activities in the business.
I remember when I seven years old. I worked for my father. I got paid a nickel a case to put candy on the shelves in our wholesale tobacco operation. I sure didn’t get rich doing that. In fact, there’s s a lot of stories I have about being underpaid and we won’t go there today. But, here’s the thing, I got exposed to the business. When I was 16 years old, I learned to drive, going to one of our vending accounts with my father, on the weekend, to put sandwiches in the machines for the weekend shift because that’s what he did. I was exposed to lots of good things about the business.
When I graduated from college, I looked around. I asked myself what I wanted to do. Guess what? The family business sounded pretty attractive to me and, for many years, it was very attractive to me.
Here are some of the rules I think that you want to be thinking about if you have your children join your business. First, do age-appropriate activities. A 7 year old can do certain things. A 10 year old can do certain things. A 13 year old can do certain things. And a 16 year old can do certain things. It’s okay for them to work in your business.
It’s not okay for them to work for you while they’re working in the business. You don’t need to be their parent at work. You have managers, hopefully, that work for you. They need to work for one of your managers, not you. This is just as true if they come to work with you full time as it is when they’re kids and they’re working part time while they’re going to school.
One of the things I like to see my clients do when they’re thinking about having children join the business is to develop what I call a family business constitution. A family business constitution is something that’s very simple. It is only five points, four points and sometimes even three points. In a bullet point, it’s really short.
It’s something that everybody can remember. Here are some things you might put in a family business constitution. You cannot come out of school and go to work for our company right out of school. You have to get a job someplace else on your own and you have to get at least one promotion at your outside job, at an outside company, before you can join the business.
Here’s why, you do not want to have your child join the business and then become incompetent. You want to have a certain level of competency. We like to believe our children are great. The sad fact is, sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not, sometimes they just need time to mature. Don’t have them mature in your business. Let them mature at someone else’s business. It’s a really good thing.
Another thing you might want to do, you have to achieve a certain level of education. Some parents let their children join the business right out of high school. Well, again, I think it’s a mistake because they haven’t had an experience someplace else. And sometimes, having that extra education makes them a more mature person who is a better critical thinker. Those are good things to do so. So, sit down to say, “What are the three to five things that are important, that you’re going to require all your children to do, if they want to join the family business?”
Earlier, I talked about when your children come to work full time for you. One of the questions you might have is “Should my children report to me?” The answer is absolutely 100% “Not.” You do not want your children reporting to you. If they do, you’re not only going to have to be their boss but you’re also going to be acting like their parent and sometimes parents and bosses don’t make a good combination.
Let your children work for somebody else. That other person is just going to look at them as an employee. Yes, maybe an employee of a boss but still an employee. Make sure you stay out of it. If your child comes and complains to you about their boss, say “You’ve got to work it out with them.” Unless, like in the other employee that you have, the boss is being unreasonable and then you have to deal with that by itself.
Okay, you’ve decided your children want to join the business. Your question is, “Where should I start?” Well, we have a free report. It’s actually an e-book called The Seven Steps of Leaving Your Business in Style. Here’s ‘what I recommend you do, click on the button, sign up for the e‑book. You’ll get it automatically, electronically and you get a chance to read it. And if you want to spend some time talking to me about specifically what it is you need to do to bring your children into your business, I’m happy to have a conversation.