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Why I Left The Family Business

By Kyle Danner

I’m often asked why I left my family’s business. It’s to be expected. Those on the outside looking in saw a sister and two brothers working together to build one of the largest printing companies in our community. Considering the seismic shifts in print and publishing in the last 20 years, our growth was remarkable. And yes I’m bragging (just a little). Our shared success allowed us to provide jobs to the community and support some worthwhile organizations.

But I made the decision to leave for some compelling reasons. Reasons that became too big to ignore.

I no longer fit the job

We were presented with a business opportunity a few years after I joined that would forever change the business and my role in it. The decision to pursue it ultimately set us apart from the competition for the next 10+ years. While other printing companies struggled, we more than doubled the size of our company.

At the time, me getting the project up and running made sense. We were still a small enough operation that we could move quickly, and free of the bureaucracy larger companies require, which was perfect for me.

Eventually, the job outgrew me. As they say, however, the devil is in the details. The “details” were in a web of IT-related issues that weren’t my forte. The reality is that I didn’t have the skills or the aptitude to meet the changing demands. Furthermore, continued success with the project required a depth of technical knowledge that I lacked.

I wasn’t being fair

The lack of skills is one thing. No one is born having all the skills necessary for a job – that’s why there are coaches, managers and continuing education opportunities. I lacked the desire to acquire the new skills, and that was much more telling. Because I lacked the desire, I wasn’t putting my best foot forward. And that wasn’t fair to me, my family, our employees, or our clients. It’s not that I wanted to fail – far from it – I just lacked the drive to figure out how to succeed in that world.

I wasn’t happy

When we’re not happy with life, everything is affected. Sure, we can go through the motions to meet our obligations, but life loses that shine. That’s not to say every minute of every day has to be the perfect moment. For me, it simply wasn’t satisfying.

I made my decision to leave in February 2010. Truthfully, I considered leaving before that. But I always talked myself out of it because of the paycheck or I didn’t know what the next step was or it was just easier to stay.

If you’re thinking of leaving your family’s business, consider your reasons carefully. Leaving may not be the best answer. For me it was. The combination of new job requirements, lack of desire and not being happy demanded that I make a change. It was the right decision for me, my family and our business.

Photo Credit: iStock.com/dorioconnell

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