Family Businesses, an Easy Ride – Right?

What does an inspirational story look like?  That’s the question I have been toying with as I sit down to write this article.

My story is just me.  I don’t have a rags to riches kind of tale.  In fact, you might think my story is the polar opposite.

I grew up the second child of middle-class parents.  My childhood was unremarkable in many ways.  It was comfortable and unchallenging. 

Fast forward some years, and I was looking to return to work after my children had arrived.  I hadn’t a clue where I belonged or who or what I was anymore.  (New motherhood has a habit of doing that to you!)

The only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to return to practicing law.  It just wasn’t for me.

Enter, stage left my parents.  They were self-employed, and their business had gone from strength to strength.  They needed someone who could head up their marketing department… I jumped at the chance.

“It’s alright for some”, I hear you say.

And it was.  I was lucky.  But ringing in my ears from day one was that exact phrase.  “It’s alright for her”, and this from the largely female workforce.

I get it.

I had come in, “the bosses’ daughter” and been given a job.

But nothing could have prepared me for their behaviour towards me; the campaign of nasty comments and closed behaviour that followed my every move. 

And this is often the reality within family-owned businesses.  It’s not always the proverbial piece of cake that those on the outside would have others believe.

Invariably, coming into a family business involves more work, more determination and an even thicker skin than is ordinarily required, as you seek to prove your worth and to prove those nay-sayers wrong.

Why?

Because whatever you do, you will always be measured against who you are.

Never your achievements.  Never your personality and the effort that you expend in trying to be accepted.

Never mind that I grew that department to four full-time members of staff.

Forget that my team and I increased revenue by 20% year on year.

It’s easy to excuse this behaviour and say that I should have had a thicker skin.  Perhaps that’s the case.  I know it would not have gone on had I not been “who I was”.

So, if you are in this position, my advice would be to always remember that others’ behaviour says more about them than you.  It speaks of their insecurity rather than your lack of ability. 

And I’m grateful for it.  I truly am.  Because it taught me to stand in my own power, to always treat others as I would like to be treated and to never judge a book by its cover (or even the cover you perceive it to have). 

Perceptions can be wrong, can’t they?

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