Many small businesses have and continue to be run by families. For a long time, I doubted how well that really worked. I care about my work deeply -- too deeply, some might argue. Did I really want to risk bringing any more responsibility or stress into my home?
But over the years, I’ve watched my best friend Brian Riddle, who I’ve written about before, run his farm in the Central Valley that way. He absolutely loves working with his sons and his wife. They’re very close. It’s obvious that the experience has been extremely rewarding for all of them.
My wife has always been my business partner, but not quite in the same way. Although she weighs in on every important decision I make, it’s from afar rather than up close. When you run your own business, you can’t help but bring it home to some extent.
But recently I’ve changed my tune. I think hiring family members has serious long-term benefits. Working together towards a common goal has the potential to strengthen, not weaken or break, your bonds. At the end of the day, we all benefit, in a very tangible way, from the work we put in. We’re invested. We share an incentive to grow and maintain a healthy, strong business.
At least, that’s been my experience thus far -- last October, I hired my eldest daughter full time.
In truth, she’s been helping me manage my content for years now. At the beginning, I had my doubts. Would we be able to work together? At first, it really was a challenge. If I’m being honest, it took years for us to understand and respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
But this past year has been the best ever. Having someone so much younger on my team has been very helpful. She has truly given me a whole new outlook. She keeps me current. In turn, I get to watch her grow as an entrepreneur and a person. We set goals together. All those years we spent figuring out how to work effectively with one another have paid off.
Sure, there are lots of reasons to fear hiring a family member. Adam Callinan wrote about of few of them for this website just a couple of days ago. Those fears are reasonable, to be sure. But in my eyes, there is one incredibly significant benefit to working with a family member: My daughter tells me no when others would simply say yes. I can always count on her to give me her honest opinion. I might not like it, and I often don’t, but there you have it.
I think that’s essential to a true partnership: Honesty.
How often do you feel like you get an honest opinion from anyone, let alone your co-workers, boss or employees? Her willingness to keep it real with me moves our business forward that much faster. She doesn’t waste any time beating around the bush. And that’s because she’s looking out for both of our interests.
The truth is that I want to help all of my children succeed. This way, we’re both helping each other. Looking back, I felt like I was going to teach her about business. I think I have, but I also feel like she’s taught me just as much about people and relationships. I wasn’t expecting that. What a gift! I consider myself one the luckiest people on the planet.
My fingers are crossed that no one else is able to pay her as well I can for a long time to come!