Working together and playing together.. my thoughts on running a family business

untitled (108)The summer is moving so fast or is time.. or age or what? Yesterday my kids were babies and I couldn’t wait to see them grow up and now I wish they were little again. The grandkids are almost grown and when did that happen?

Seeing them inter-acting at work and play I want to snatch them back and either cuddle them or scold them. I can do neither because they need to figure things out themselves. It is not easy working in a family business.

It is play time and time to just enjoy each other and relax and forget about work. Invariably something will come up and the talk will wind itself into a particular incident or event. Events not done yet will also come up, and when the smoke clears you feel like you have put in another day at work.

Running a family catering business is not easy.. you cannot leave it at the door and have a free week-end. I liken it to being a part of the family. The business is a tangible entity, it follows you everywhere like a dog wanting teats.

This entity never grows up.. well it does grow, but like a teenager, it then needs even more attention to keep it satisfied. Little flare-ups occur and we deal with it. But sometimes like smoldering peat moss, it lies beneath the surface, in wait for someone to fan it into a raging fire .. requiring all our skills to extinguish. images33Y8EN04

How many lives are consumed by family businesses I wonder? Are some businesses more challenging than others? If the business is successful it eats up a lot of our precious time and if it’s not, well it can eat up even more.. along with our health.

Our business is going into the third generation. It is somewhat satisfying, seeing something grow from an idea. There are also times I wonder .. what have I done and did I create a monster?

images0U5R2DIRDo others feel as I do .. ones that have started family businesses only to see it take over their lives? Sure it is successful and yes it is satisfying but would having a real job with real days off and holidays be a better way of life?

Being in control of my own destiny has always appealed to me, the challenges and the creativity needed to fuel these endeavors is what drives me. Here I am ‘retired’ and re-inventing myself in yet another business.

  Starting a catering business was accidental.. it is a complicated story and I have written about it in my blog..  under business.

In my fist life I was a hairstylist.. owning my own shops, I did that for the love of it. I loved doing peoples hair and I learned the ropes of hiring staff and growing clienteles .

How is it I had a life in that genre? I could leave it and have real days off and holidays and in one case taking off the entire summer, almost. My skills at running a business were honed in those salons.

imagesUWI46A20This wasn’t a family business though, had it been, would it have been harder? Na.. I can’t see my kids running around with scissors and sweeping floors. But they were certainly collecting dishes and helping us everywhere in the catering business.

They are up here, along with me at the lake.. taking, well booking .. time off on a busy long week-end. Thank goodness for that, we desperately need to insert balance into our lives, especially when running a family business. It can consume you otherwise.untitled (109)

We also need to be careful with our words when we work with each other. Running a family business is hard on our feelings, I plead guilty in that department. I wish I could take back how harshly I treated my own, but I can’t.

Why did I expect them to perform the same as myself I wonder? I didn’t have time to waste on pouts or tears.. just get the job done and do it better than anyone else. Expecting a higher level of performance than the rest of the employees was unreasonable and I know that now.

My daughter couldn’t wait to leave this business and how can I blame her? She did come back around to it.. and my son eventually bought it.. and she works for him now.

The thing with family is..  someone has to be the boss and we expect much more from ourselves than we do from anyone else. If we could only keep our business life separate it would help, and we try, believe me we try.

images33PKEDQOWe need to remember to not criticize or boss our family outside of work.. I especially needed to learn that. Looking back I wish I would have been gentler and more easy-going. I have to tell you though, they have taken the business to a whole new level and they are really good.

My beautiful granddaughter and my grandson are now helping in the business.. their mom and Uncle are now their bosses. Lord .. lord.. what have I done? The circle of life goes on and I am keeping my fingers crossed.

I hope they give more love and praise to these two young beautiful kids than I gave to mine. This is a tough job, we need more love from each other than most, I think.

My advice to those running a family business.. when you get annoyed or lose patience with your own , give them a big hug instead of criticism.. I know.. I know, but please.. do it for me.