Family Businesses & Children

There is a lot to consider before getting your older involved in a family business.

Here are 7 that might be important.

Family business tip #1

– Is your child mature enough to handle the job?

Before you even begin thinking about employing your child in your family business, you have to consider whether he or she is mature enough to hold a part-time job. Legally, you can hire your child if he or she has a work permit and is over 14 years of age. However, some 14 year-olds are not yet ready to hold a job.

Family business tip #2

– Will the job work out with his or her schedule?

Some kids are so involved with school and extra-curricular activities, including sports, that it isn’t realistic to expect your child to hold a part-time job, even during the summer. You don’t want to have your kids trying to do too much.

Family business tip #3

– How and how much will you pay your child?

You need to determine wages and how you will pay your child before he or she starts working. It is legal for parents to pay their own children in cash when working in a family business. No taxes need to be paid on the income your child earns. You will want to offer your child at least minimum wage as he or she could easily go out and get a different part-time job.

Family business tip #4

– How will your other employees perceive you hiring your son or daughter?

You will also have to be careful as to how your child will be perceived by other employees. You won’t want to give the impression that you don’t expect any work out of your child, or that you are showing him or her much favoritism.

Family business tip #5

– Are you ready to draw boundaries between home and work?

When you are both your child’s boss and mother or father, you have to set boundaries between the two roles before you child even begin his or her new job. Your son or daughter needs to know when you are his or her boss and when you are his or her parent. Working for your parents can cause a lot of confusion in this area, especially when work is occasionally brought home, as is the case in many family businesses.

Family business tip #6

– How much responsibility are you planning to give your child when he or she begins working for you?

You will also want to consider how much responsibility you would like to give your son or daughter within the business. The more responsibility you feel that you can safely give him or her, the better. It will provide your son or daughter with good work habits and skills.

Family business tip #7

- How are you going to negotiate your child’s time off?

Chances are that your son or daughter has the active social life of a teenager. As a result, it is inevitable that he or she will occasionally want some time off. You need to consider how you will negotiate your child’s time off before they begin working their new job.

If you take the time to think this important decision through, you will avoid a lot of issues down the road, and you might just improve the relationship with your child.

Do you own your own business and are debating whether or not to involve your children?
As with just about anything, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. Below are taken from my own experiences working in a family business.

  • It gives children work experience. It can be difficult for children under age 16 to get a job simply due to the fact that they aren’t able to drive. However, for children 14-16 who want to work during the summer (and can legally do so, at least in Michigan), a simple job working in a family business may be ideal. It will prepare them for a career later in life.
  • Working in a family business gives children a sense of purpose and gives them experience interacting with adults. Children need a regular routine, especially during the summer. A summer job in the family business can provide just that. In addition, it can provide young teenagers experience dealing with adults on a professional level. For instance, most kids are used to dealing with parents, teachers, coaches, etc. – all adults in authority. By working in a family business, they have an opportunity to interact with adults on a professional, even level.
  • It also helps develop business skills such as money management. The earlier young teenagers learn useful business skill such as money management, the better off he or she will be. They can later use these skills as they enter college, and later, a career.
  • It can be difficult to separate family time from work. One of the biggest drawbacks of having your kids working in the family business is that it can become increasingly difficult to separate family time from work. If you are both parent and boss to your child, take time to ensure that you set boundaries. Let your child know when you are his or her boss and when you are Mom or Dad. That simple act can save you a lot of issues in the long run, especially when it comes to work schedules and various outside activities.
  • Children also need to learn how to work with supervisors outside of the family. If your child grows up only working for Mom and Dad, he or she may have difficulty working with other supervisors later on. For example, Mom or Dad will be more sympathetic to personal issues that may arise or providing time off for personal pursuits.

It is a good idea to have your kids get work outside of the family business as well, even if it is only for a few hours after school.

If these few small items are kept in mind, the process of employing your son or daughter in the family business will go much more smoothly. As the daughter of a small business owner who worked for her parents for several years during high school, I have experienced some of the issues above. Hopefully this will help you make a more informed decision when considering employing your son or daughter in the family business.

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