In the first of a short series of blogs entitled ‘Behind the Business’ Paul describes what it is like to work in a family business alongside ‘the boss’ Kim.
Kim (left) and Paul together early in Paul’s career.
Wow! This year marks my 10th anniversary of working in Market Research, most of which I’ve spent working in the industry alongside my dad. This got me thinking, I wonder how many others work in a business with their family and how do they find it. So I thought I’d put my skills as a researcher to good use and try to find out.
After consulting with one of my most useful research partners, Mr Google, I came across the 2014 Family Business survey conducted by PWC which states in a short video:
“In Australia, there are 340,000 families who own and run a business.”See http://www.pwc.com.au/publications/family-business-survey.html
The report is littered with useful statistics about the family businesses in Australia (and globally) and provides some interesting case studies about such businesses. But it did not answer one of the most common questions I get asked from colleagues which is “what is it like to work with your dad?” This is quite often followed by a statement like “I could never work with my dad.”
Usually my response is we have a similar temperament so it works well for us. But there is much more to this work dynamic than aligning personalities so I thought I’d provide some insight (as a researcher should).
At the outset, I viewed it as a Master and Apprentice relationship where I was the apprentice and Dad was the Master. This is when I began calling him ‘the boss’.
I learnt the ropes as he taught me important skills about managing market research projects and running a business. However, it was not without its hiccups along the way with some tension and frustration felt at times (usually by the apprentice). But each of us were open to listening and always respected each other’s viewpoints and as I gradually gained confidence and realised that I played an important role in the success of the business (and was not just an employee within it) our relationship evolved into a partnership. Now it’s rare for us to have disagreements, if there is a difference in opinion it usually is resolved through a healthy debate which enhances our work.
Even though the evolution of our relationship has gradually shifted, I still call him ‘the boss’.