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Is Your Co-Founder, Boss, Employee or Partner A Family Member?

While working for/with your family is great and has some perks – after all, there is a (very) low chance of being fired, you might even be one of the ogas sef without having to climb so many ladders – it comes with its own difficulties too.



If you are currently a job seeker or already working in Nigeria, you will observe that even with skills, zeal, and the passion to work, many employers (or recruiters) still demand certain years of experience before you can join their company. As ‘unfair’ as this may sound, it is what it is. Many recruiters don’t appreciate the idea of ‘taking a chance’ on someone who has no experience and then having to start the procedure all over again because the person did not perform up to expectations. Many businesses also set out to make profits and having to train entry-level employees can eat deeper into their pockets.

Thus, in many cases, many people are encouraged to take up internship positions, volunteer for a certain period of time, or work for families and friends – just to gain experience and be exposed to the ‘corporate world’.

In many other cases, some families already have their family ‘company’ and the children are expected to be a part of it when they graduate from school.

While working for/with your family is great and has some perks – after all, there is a (very) low chance of being fired, you might even be one of the ogas sef without having to climb so many ladders – it comes with its own difficulties too.

Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of working with your immediate family:

You work with people you trust

See ehn, entrusting certain things – money, personal information, office secrets and so on to an ‘outsider’ (in this context, outsiders are people who are not part of your family) can be risky. Remember what they say about what’s happening in Rome staying in Rome? It applies to your family business. With family, you can be assured that your major deals or the next big plan will not be all over the news before it is executed.

There’s always a second chance

You know how you can make one big mistake and your boss will look you straight in the eye while handing you your sack letter? Well, with family, e no go reach that level (in most cases).

While we are not encouraging you to go about making mistakes and ruining the business, it is important to understand that mistakes will always happen, you will flop at intervals and unlike working in other companies, working with your family affords you the opportunity to learn and quickly move on from your mistakes.

Families tend to cover up one another when things happen and will not lead you into the slaughterhouse.

A relaxed environment

If you read the tales from many – in fact, most – Nigerian employees, you’ll realize that many of them work in the most awful work environment. From the delay in payment of salaries to not even paying at all. Some staff have their salaries deducted as punishments, some are even asked to kneel down in the offices. Many retail companies that sell mobile phones and laptops do not have seats so the workers stand throughout the day. Working with your family offers you a chilled, relaxed and perhaps flexible work environment.

A common goal

Ever had an amazing idea in a company and no one was willing to push through because “it is not their father’s business”? There’s a lesser risk of that when you work with your family. Because the business is family-owned and whatever profit you make comes back to your family, there’s a higher chance that everyone will be willing to pull their weight to ensure that they get the job done.

What Are The Cons?

Well, there’ll always be a conflict of interest

Of course, human beings can never be the same, even if you are twins. In a family business, many things come to play – especially age. So let’s say you have this idea you believe will truly make a difference and your older sister or brother has another idea, whose idea do you think will most likely be accepted? Except you have a track record of being better at that particular field, there’s a likelihood that your older one will push through more, just because they are older. It also happens when either of your parents is the CEO and they believe they have seen more of the world and your views might be stunted. For family businesses, you have to make extra efforts to find a common ground.

You might not grow as fast

One thing about working with other people is that they may never sugar-coat your wrongdoings.  You work in a company where competition is (probably) high, everyone is working so hard and smart and more people are seeking to be a part of the company. You’re constantly reminded of why you need to work better and push harder. You might not get this in your family business, especially if you’re the eldest child. Everyone is trying to be careful not to start a family feud or be rude to their older ones.

Family feuds last long

You know how you can look your colleague or boss in the face, give them a piece of your mind and (probably) tender your resignation letter the next day? It doesn’t work that way with a family business. Whatever fight occurs in the office is usually extended to the homes. Fighting with your siblings at work is equal to fighting with them at home. The effect of this is such that you all begin to mix professional issues with personal issues and it can get very difficult to ‘draw the line’ or set boundaries.

How do you fire your sibling/parents/children?

Imagine you’re the head of a department and your sibling works in that department, how do you fire him/her if they are not performing up to expectations or if they are doing things that contradict the work ethics of that company? There’s no guarantee that giving negative feedback to a member of your family about their work will not affect your relationship. Talk more of firing them? It’s usually a dicey situation.

So do you work with your immediate family? Does any member of your family work for you? How have you been able to handle working with them?

Share your experience(s).

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