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What To Do If The Family Business Isn't For You?

By Kyle Danner

Here’s a scary thought: What if the family business isn’t for you?

What if the path you believed in so strongly, that it felt like a mission, turned out to be the wrong direction for you? Maybe you’ve had sneaking suspicion for some time, but didn’t know how to answer the question or you were afraid to ask it in the first place.

Even thinking about leaving the family business can feel like an act of betrayal. Or worse, that you’re disappointing Mom and Dad. The guilt can be almost unbearable.

While you’re dealing with that cascade of negative feelings, the next question is “What else would you do?” Rather than wrestle with the difficult question, maybe it’s just best to keep your head down and keep plugging away.

Trust me. It’s not.

So what do you do? Where do you begin when thinking about leaving the family business?

How To Find Out If The Family Business Is Right For You

Start with why you joined in the first place and be honest with yourself. Did you really want to work in the business, or was it a quick and easy decision? If it helps, read The 4 Reasons for Working in the Family Business.

Next, ask yourself what’s changed since joining the business. Is it that you’re no longer interested in working with your family or you don’t see a viable career path?

We change and circumstances change. What seemed like a good decision a few years ago may no longer make sense.

Sometimes the current generation is satisfied with the way things are and unwilling to take risks to grow the business. It’s easy to fault them, but they may be eyeing their retirement and are unwilling to take risks to grow the business.

Then, ask yourself if you’re in the right position.

Perhaps your talents and energies are not being used in the right place. Maybe you don’t know what they are to begin with. If you’re a natural-born salesperson and you’re doing bookkeeping, that can be frustrating, not to mention a waste of talent. Invest some time asking yourself if you’re really doing the work you’re best suited for.

Finally, after all that and you decide an exit makes the most sense, develop a plan. That will help reassure everyone, including yourself, that you’ve thought this through.

You may be leaving the business, but you’re not leaving your family. There’s still Sunday dinners and holidays that you’ll spend with your former co-workers.

One more thing: be ready for pushback. When I talked about leaving the family business, mom and dad always said two things to me. Your family cares about you and, honestly, they’re wondering how they’ll replace you. The easiest answer is to offer you more money or make other concessions. Tempting as that may be, stay true to yourself. In the long run, you, your family and the business will be better for it.


If you’re questioning whether the family business is the best fit for you, take the first step and schedule a Strengths Session with me. Using the Strengthscope Standard Report, you’ll discover the work that energizes you, then we can meet via Zoom to talk about whether the family business is a fit based on the results. Schedule a conversation with me to get started.