The family business — to join or not to join

As a second-generation family member, working in the family business has been an exciting and rewarding experience. In the beginning, there were no employees, so you had to do all the tasks, such as cleaning, scrubbing floors, making the chocolates, delivering to customers, answering the phones and dealing with everyday problems.

As the company grew, employees were hired to fill different positions and your duties would constantly change to delegating, teaching, paperwork and everything else associated with a growing business.

Timing is crucial

As the next generation prepares for their future, the first question is to join or not to join? It may seem like a good idea, working with people you know. You don’t have to apply for a job or consider a career path and you have an opportunity to keep the family business going. It’s a decision that must be made by all the family members involved in the business to be sure that it’s something they are all looking forward to.

The second question is when to join. Should you join right out of college? Here is a rule of thumb: If the business is large, you need to work elsewhere for a certain amount of time. It’s important to learn what it’s like to be an employee before you can become a leader in the family business.

Working somewhere in the world outside of the family business will help you learn how other companies manage their business. It will give you the opportunity to bring new ideas and experience to the family business when and if you decide to join.

Tips from experience

When I joined the family business I had to do every job including the menial ones. This gave me a good all-round knowledge of the business and helped me experience things first hand. It helps our employees respect the dedication, because they know we work hard to maintain and grow the business. Our success is their success.

As a family member wanting to join the family business, here are some things to remember:

1. Work outside the company before joining the family business.

2. When you join the family business, bring your experience with you, and never take advantage of your situation.

3. Learn to respect your employees and work with them to learn their job and why they are important toward your success.

4. You need to prove your worth, not only to your family members, but to your employees as well. You must work harder and put in the hours.

5. If there are family disputes, try not to bring them into the workplace.

The most important and final thing that you must do is put a succession plan in place. You want to keep the family business in the family for the next generation.


Bill Sarris is the president of Sarris Candies Inc. While focusing on growth in several areas, from fundraising programs to new retail territories and corporate sales, the Sarris family maintains the old-fashioned values and customer service standards set by the company’s founder, Frank Sarris.