Friday, August 16, 2013

The Family Business

Small business owners are always tempted if not obligated by guilt or necessity to hiring family members.  Hence, the term "mom and pop." Hiring family members can have its advantages.

  • They might work for free or cheaply while you are first building your business, especially if they are your children and have no choice.
  • They might just be more loyal than your average employee. 
  • You feel more comfortable having people you know around you in case you mess up or don't know what you are doing. 
  • You don't have to search for employees and worry about trusting new people.
  • They might be less inclined to report you if you are late with paychecks.
  • They might not try to collect unemployment. 
All of these points make it easy for the small business owner to go straight to the family tree when looking to make new hires. 

However, this strategy does have its downsides:

  • Less separation from work and home. Work problems follow you to your home. 
  • Family holidays could become mighty awkward if you had to fire your cousin because he was a bad employee.
  • Family members do take advantage, show up late, do less work - all behind the shield of being a part of the "family."  Just because they are family members doesn't mean they are naturally good employees.
  • The number one downside is that it is very hard to grow your business if you only hire family members.  Unless you have a really big family, most businesses would like to grow beyond the size of their family. 
When you hire family members, you create an environment for your business that says you are just about the family.  Any new employees coming in are going to naturally feel left out.  No matter how hard you try to seem like a fair employer, it will seem like nepotism.  If you have more family members than non-family members, the family culture will dominate. Your small business will be filled with more conversations about personal family business and other inside jokes than work business, and those from outside the family will never understand or fit in.  As a result, outsiders won't truly feel as if they belong in your business or as if they can have the opportunity to become a vital member of the team. Loyalty and group teamwork will suffer when all workers don't feel like an equal and valuable member of the team.  Good employees will only stick around a place where they feel they have an equal chance of advancement and opportunity.  

If you want to ever expand your business, you must think outside the family tree and about how you can recruit the best and brightest to build your brand.  

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