We love running our own show, getting the children involved, and monetizing our skills and talents. Business works well with a family, and I believe many families are called to start their own business. I’ve got 5 words to share with those who want to start.
1. Your Gifts
Business isn’t about making money, it’s about giving your time and services to customers. Business is walking, “Give and you shall receive” (Luke 6:38), not the other way around. You are best able to give when you know what you have to give!
You have to ask yourself, “What am I good at?” A better question, “What do others say I’m good at?” Or, even better, “What do I love to do for others?” The answers to these questions are where your gifts lie, and people often are willing to pay top-dollar for product and services that reflect your gifts.
For families, this can be a deep and difficult question to answer. The societal norm has Mom and Dad on separate career paths, and kids go to school to learn different skills. The separation is unfortunate. It has taken Wendy and I years to figure out what we’re good at together. We’ve settled on this: “Encouraging young couples to grow their families.” Hence, this entire blog and all our resources.
The exciting thing is this: As our children grow to discover their own gifts, they are encouraged to let those gifts blossom. I imagine my children to never trapped without an idea that could make them money, which is my next point.
2. Monetize Your Gifts
Gifts don’t sell very well. Products, resources, and services do! (Thank you, Ken Davis, for teaching this.) You and your family have to figure out how to turn your gifts into products or services that people will pay money for.
Take a look at what Wendy and I have done. We’re writers (a gift), and we’ve created several books. I’m a debate coach, and our debate camps are the best in the country. Wendy’s a fabulous cook, and her cookbooks sell like hotcakes. Children have gifts, too, and as they get older they contribute to the family business. Lydia’s a movie maker, Wendy’s a cook: viola! Wendy’s YouTube videos that enhance the selling of her cookbooks.
We’re constantly working on monetizing our gifts. There is no shame here at all (and shame on anyone who tries to make you feel that way). In fact, if something doesn’t make money, it is a sign that people don’t really want it. It’s then time to go back to the drawing board and figure out something else that will bring food on the table.
Micah is a perfect example of this. He makes sparring swords out of fiberglass yard sticks. They’re quite something, and a whole lot of fun! In the summer when Wendy goes to the park, Micah will bring a few of the swords he made and invite kids to spar with him. They have a lot of fun and he makes new friends wherever he goes. He doesn’t come home with many swords, because he sells them for 10 bucks a pop!
3. Embrace Technology
Back when I contemplated getting an MBA, I had a choice: Speech Communications (which was more my educational background) or Electronic Business (much more of a learning curve at the time). I’m so glad I chose the latter.
That was back in 2003. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable it has been to stay on the cutting edge of computer technology and the Internet. It has helped our family business stay afloat, keep our name out there, and let everything work together smoothly.
I’ve seen businesses fail because they have outsourced technology or, they think, the Internet is just an annoying marketing gimmick. Even if your business is a local one, or you’re into widget making and you think you don’t need to be online, you and your business should. The Internet is where business is, and you need to be there.
4. Don’t Get Sidetracked
Get your mind off of getting rich. The get-rich-quick scams are a dime a dozen; avoid them like the disease they are. Same with these kinds of buzz lines: “Start today, work only 5 hours a week, and spend more time with your family!” The snake-oil salesmen promise the moon and rarely deliver, if ever. Their programs are usually pyramid schemes, encouraging you to call all your friends and annoy them to death, and ultimately leaves you pennyless and friendless.
Stay focused on points #1 and #2. Grow your gifts, create products or services (or both!) out of them, and keep working it out. I’ve seen very talented people get sidetracked into land deals that have soaked them dry, or they get dragged into business deals that take up all their time. Even if they do make a few bucks on the deals, the time is wasted on things that aren’t their gifts. Do what God is calling you to do, and don’t get sidetracked.
5. Keep a Strong Work Ethic
Family business isn’t about getting out of work; it’s about working your tail off at what you love. Get this into your mind: you will likely work TWICE as much in a family business. If that’s something that turns you on, then go for it. If you think, “Golly, I’d rather work 9-5 and get paid per hour,” then the family business isn’t for you.
And that’d be just fine. Family business isn’t for everyone. But for those entrepreneurial thinkers, a family business is the way to go!
I’d love to hear from other family business enthusiasts. Leave your comments below…