For many business owners, it’s a dream to have their children be involved in the business one day. Parents who start a business often do so with the plan, in the back of their mind, to pass it along to their children eventually. Very often, this plan goes awry and feelings are hurt, simply because proper thought wasn’t given to the project in the beginning.
While young children are often enthusiastic about helping at the family store, restaurant or business, as they grow children’s interests change. While they may continue to be involved, their interest may wane, much to the chagrin of their parents. As a parent, you should look at your child’s interest and involvement as a bonus rather than a guarantee.
Here’s how you can involve your children in your business so that everyone benefits:
Never start a business with the sole plan of having your children take over when you are ready to retire. Your children will feel pigeon-holed and are more likely to rebel. If you start a business, do it for you, not for your kids. Create several options for your business once you have decided to retire: selling, passing it to the children or even keeping it in name only, letting someone else run the day-to-day operations.
Your children need to know that your cupcake business is about more than simply making sweet treats. Let them in on the daily operations, the financial aspects and the business side of the company. If they have a better understanding of how the company operates, they are better able to make an informed decision as to whether this is what they want to do with their lives.
As your children age and develop interests and strengths, put those to good use. Your child may be a financial genius but a disaster in the kitchen; ask them to help handle the books rather than bake cakes. By giving your children tasks that showcase their strengths, they are more likely to stay interested in the business.
Always encourage your child to get a good education and let them choose their path. Never automatically assume that your child will pursue a business degree in order to take over the family business. Encourage their interests and let them know that it’s okay for them to pursue their own dreams; whether or not their new degree will be useful in the family’s company.
Your child may be interested in the family business but not in the position you’ve put them in. When they get old enough, let them take on other responsibilities within the company. You may be surprised and find that the child you thought had no interest in taking over the family business finds their niche.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to raise a responsible adult. However, that adult may or may not take over the family business. If you start your company with the intention of your children taking over, but comfortable with the knowledge that they may not, you’ll avoid hurt feelings on all sides in the future.
James Thomas is a web designer who learned how to make money at home by understanding that you can make money with usability testing for various websites.