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What is it like to work in the family business?

Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder Writer

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The hit TLC TV show "Cake Boss" follows Buddy Valastro Jr. and his family as they run the family business, Carlo's Bakery. While much of the show focuses on the elaborate cakes and pastries created by Valastro's team, it also gives viewers a peek into the trials and tribulations that Valastro faces while working side-by-side with his mom, sisters, brothers-in-law, cousins and other family members.

Watching the show, you get a sense of what it's like to work in a family business. You're able to work with some of the most important people in your life, which can be satisfying and trying. Family members can be brutally honest and unafraid to tell you what they really think, which can be a good or bad thing. Some people thrive in this environment, while others prefer more anonymity in the workplace.

If you don't have time to catch up on "Cake Boss," read on for personal stories about the opportunities, challenges and lessons learned from working in a family business.

Moving across the world for family
"I emigrated from England to Idaho in 1999. Since then, I started my own successful business. [My] mom and dad immigrated here and have been working for me ever since. Dad had been a successful database technician in England, but due to his age, he couldn't even get a minimum-wage [job] here. Now he's my lead software engineer and our shipping manager. He's fantastic at it. Mom could barely find her email when she first arrived, but ... she now does all our software tech support and purchasing. It's not always easy juggling roles. These two people are both my employees, but also my children's grandparents. But they both tell me all the time that they take more pride in the success of our little business than any other job they've ever had." -- Erin Miller, founder, CookbookPeople.com

A rewarding real-estate experience
"I work for my father's real-estate business along with my brother ... There are many benefits to working with your family. The biggest is trust. Owning and running a business is stressful. There is a lot of competition. It is comforting to work with family, knowing you can rely on them and trust that everyone is looking out for the best interest of the business. It is also nice to work with family in order to keep a business running. When you run your own business, there are no breaks ... But when things happen in your personal life and you need someone to pick up the slack, it is great to have family to rely on ... The flip side of that is when things are difficult, it can strain relationships. Stress creates anxiety, which can lead to arguments. Our family does a pretty good job of communicating when we are upset about something. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and if each person can respect that and communicate and accept it, then problems can be avoided or at least worked out with a nice conversation." -- Erica Walther, office management and sales, Walther Realtors

Brothers in business
"My dream has been to launch and sustain a family business until my children can take it over. This February, I began that journey with my younger brother and our company, Corey Consulting. We are an Internet-marketing solution for small businesses ... I have had other business partners in the past, and now I am in business with my brother. It's the best business decision I ever made. The trust is something that cannot be bought and allows us to focus on our clients totally. There is a feeling of not wanting to let your family down that drives me to work harder and be more open to ideas -- even if they are not my own ... I think some of the challenges may blend with the benefits. Your colleagues know you really well and normal 'BS' will not apply. Some professional courtesies are skipped ... There is certainly more pressure from outside family members. There is certainly more pressure that we put on ourselves." -- Christopher Corey, vice president of sales, Corey Consulting

Positives and pet peeves of a family pet shop
"The positives/negatives of working in the family business: You're among family ... the people who love and support you. When I succeed at my job, I am benefiting both myself and my family. There is a certain level of comfort and trust that exists, allowing me to do my job better and more freely. I am proud to be a part of something that my aunt has worked so hard to grow. I am working with people I love and care about. There is a definite feeling of team effort and accountability because success of one means success for all, [and] when you're family, it is easier to be brutally honest at times because of that level of comfort between family members -- this can actually be a plus or a minus. -- Catherine Laures, e-commerce manager, Animal Outfitters

Debra Auerbach is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.



Last Updated: 29/08/2012 - 1:35 PM


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