I recently interviewed a young man about growing up in a family business and he shared what he thought were the most important things he learned. I thought the contents were so valuable that I would share them on my blog. I hope you enjoy!
I grew up in a family that owned and operated a bowling center that was around for approximately 45 years. At the ripe age of 9, I received my first paycheck…$2 for sweeping the floor. I always had an overwhelming sense of pride in our business and now that it has been closed for eight years, I often find myself reflecting on the experience of growing up in that environment. I feel blessed to have the upbringing I did. After all, I always had a job, a place to hang out, and I was one heck of a bowler! That business helped to sustain my family for 3 generations and we are all certainly thankful for the financial benefits we received from it. But most of all, I remember the values I learned from my family, values that helped shape who I am today.
Sometimes these lessons focused on learning how to do things, like Grandpa teaching me the “right” way to mop a floor, a lesson I was taught at least 15 times. Other lessons were life lessons like when my dad explained to me that he DID expect more from me than the other employees. I was his son and whether I liked it or not, people were watching what I was doing, and I was setting an example for them. Along those lines, if Grandma ever ate anything from our food court, you better believe she paid full price for it. One time I even asked her why she paid for things when she owned the place. But in her mind, if she made it seem that it was ok to take something from the business, others would feel that they could do the same thing.
Then there were the lessons of humility, like if the bathrooms needed to be cleaned and my dad was around, he would clean them. Yes he paid people to do that, but it was important for them to see that he was willing to do it too. Ever want to make my dad or grandpa angry? Walk by a piece of paper on the floor without picking it up or leave a room without turning off a light, I am sure you will get your own lesson!
Family owned businesses present individuals with the opportunity to do many things. You can make a great living, you can build a successful company and you can do something you love. But I believe the greatest opportunity of all is to inject your values into your business so it becomes an extension of who you are.