As we all know, early adulthood can be one of the most challenging times in life. Learning who you are as a person, finding a career, perhaps finding a life partner…all very exciting but challenging steps in life. This period can be particularly trying for members of family businesses. While there are lots of family businesses out there, it is not likely that family business employees, owners (or future owners) in their 20s will have a strong peer network who are also members of family businesses. So, they often don’t have someone to share the special challenges and opportunities they are facing. The decision to enter one’s own family business is very different than the decision to go to work for a Fortune 500 firm, or the decision to build one’s own enterprise. Family business members in their 20s may be hesitant to share their family background with others their age for fear of sounding entitled or ungrateful for the opportunities they have. If family members decide to work for someone else, they may be uncomfortable telling co-workers they spent their weekend at a family meeting. What if co-workers assume they are “short-timers” at their current jobs because they may work for the family in the future? Or, they assume they don’t need their current job because they receive some form of compensation from the family business?
Finding ways to support family members in their 20s is a key to helping them make a successful transition to into their roles as family business employees or owners. Some ideas include identifying family business programs they can attend to meet peers, creating opportunities for family members within the business to share with each other at family meetings or social events, or even identifying a mentor in the family or business who can help family members work through these issues.
If you have developed a good program or approach for the young adults in your family’s business – we’d love to hear about them!