Look before jumping into the family business!

Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. The best Father-Son story in baseball, and maybe (behind the NFL's Manning brothers and father) in all of sport. Ironically, Jr. initially resisted playing baseball. He instead wanted to play college football at the University of Oklahoma as a running back. Not so ironically, Jr's own son ended up playing collegiate football for Arizona, and his proud papa got to play college football after all through his son.

Who do you know who works as part of a family business? Would like to start or join a business with your family?

Growing up I had a good friend whose grandfather owned a Coca-Cola distribution franchise for about a 1/3 of the state. It was a very profitable business and allowed the family to branch into other ventures as well. From about the age of 14 my friend enjoyed spending most of his summers working in the family business.

Both he and his grandfather looked forward to a time when my friend would make that his career. When it was time to head to college he was told he would not be part of the operation unless he learned enough at school to contribute on his own merit and not because of his last name. In this case my friend went to off to school, decided he wanted to be a chef and never returned to carry on as third generation owner.

I love that story because it illustrates character by both my friend and his grandfather. They grandfather was wise enough to let a beloved heir “earn it” and my friend was able to resist the pressure to follow a career path that he realized would not be personally rewarding for him.

Sometimes following a path that has been predetermined for you leads to resentment and frustration, which is why getting into your family’s business with your eyes wide open is so critical.