Sometimes, business is all in the family

November 17, 2010

The Wall Street Journal ran a great piece earlier this week about parents and children going into business together. And not the more typical passing-down of the family business, either — they highlighted three families who built a company from the ground up, working together.

The families were a mother and daughter coming up with a learning tool for babies, based on the mother’s experience with her own granddaughter; a teenage son who needed his dad’s help to expand his business selling old video games, iPhones and computers; and a father who stepped in to help the business side of his daughter and son-in-law’s fledgling furniture company.

There are pros and cons, to be sure — parents bring experience and connections, but children often bring the technology and Internet skills. Parents often assume the leadership role, even if they’re not technically the boss, and kids may still have that urge to not listen to them.

In all three of the story’s examples, parent and child have their own, defined roles. Even with a good working relationship, however, toes are stepped on from time to time, just like in any office. When your partner is your parent or child, however, there’s good incentive to patch things up quickly and move on.

I don’t know if I could work with my parents. My mom is very take-charge and outgoing, and I might feel that she was running things her way without taking my opinions into consideration. My dad is quiet and reserved, just like me — so neither one of us would want to be the outward face of our company. However, he’s also been in retail for 40 years, which is more experience than I could dream of.

What do you think? Is going into business with your parent or child a good idea? Would you do it?

Image courtesy of thinkpanama via Flickr

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