National Association of At-Home Mothers
Info Guide #G37
The 20 Best Home Businesses For MomsThat You Can Start For Under $100
by Priscilla Y. Huff
For one reason or another, you have decided you want to work from home, but (1) you are not sure
kind of business you would like to do and (2) you do not have much money for your home business start-up. Are there any home businesses that fit both criteria? Fortunately, there are. The businesses profiled in this
are ones recommended by entrepreneurial mothers, but
business idea can be started up relatively inexpensively if you plan and research.
Generally, the businesses that cost the least to start-up are
businesses as opposed to
businesses. A service business is exactly that: doing chores or tasks for individuals and/or companies who do not have the time or knowledge to carry out. Usually a minimum of equipment is needed#151;you are the main facilitator of this type of business. A
business most often requires the purchasing of materials and supplies as well as financing the sales and distribution of your product(s). You are responsible for creation and production#151;which can include mass production, one-of-a-kind, or both.
Some businesses can be conducted almost exclusively from home, while others require part or more time with your clients. If you are a mother, you may need to plan to have some type of child care coverage, especially if your children are small. Possibilities can be your spouse, a relative, a sitter who comes in your home, a drop-in child care center, work during the hours your child is in nursery or school, or taking turns with other mothers who also need time to work or do errands. You may also need a way to meet with customers#151;having them come to your home office or going to meet them at their homes or offices. These are important considerations that you need to deliberate
you open your doors. Choose a home business around something you enjoy doing, and one that fits your family situation including the amount of time you have which may depend on your children#146;s ages, etc.
Helpful Tips for Starting Any Business, Regardless of the Start-up Costs:
Do your research to see if there is a demand or market for your business idea#151;with customers willing to pay for your business#146; services and/or products.
Set aside a room or a screened-off corner or space exclusively for your business.
Fit your skills and interests with your business idea.
Decide what skills or experience you may need to obtain or upgrade.
Find a mentor, another home-based business mom, or a home-based business or trade association with whom you can network information and ideas. Sometimes contacting another person in a similar business#151;but in a non-competing region#151;can be the most helpful of all. They can give you tips on what has worked (and not worked) for them, plus other valuable information you can use.
Discuss your venture(s) with your spouse and family. It is much easier to start a business with a good support network than it is without.
Decide how much actual #147;working time#148; you will have to devote to your business and customers. Be honest and realistic with the time you will have available.
Keep organized with your own bookkeeping and files. Consult with an accountant to make sure you know what the IRS (and your state and local taxing authorities) requires of a small business.
Never stop learning about your business, your customers, and from your mistakes.
Keep current by reading newsletters, journals, home and small business publications, and of course, networking with other entrepreneurs.
Develop the quality of persistence. The successful entrepreneur is one who persists until she finds the answer(s) for which she was seeking!
Develop customer loyalty by treating them with respect and giving the very best products and/or service. Never take them for granted. It costs three times as much in marketing expenses to get a new customer than to keep a present customer satisfied.
Keep your business venture in perspective. Cut out or cut back the extraneous activities in your life and save time for you and those you love. Enjoy your new business, but do not let it consume you.
Basic Home Office Essentials:
A #147;bare bones,#148; basic home office set-up can consist of the following:
Equipment: desk or flat work area; chair; equipment needed for your specific business
Office supplies: files, business ledger, pens, pencils, stationery, etc.
Telephone (you can have special rings designated on your home telephone line)
Business cards and/or flyers (you can have a home-based desktop publisher make fewer quantities for less money than going to a commercial printer)
Reference materials: guides, manuals, books, etc. relevant to your business and trade When your business begins to bring in money, you can then add the following essentials:
Computer,* peripherals and business-related software
Though not needed to start most businesses, a computer with business-related software has become almost a standard for
businesses. If you cannot afford one, you may be able to start with good, used ones, pay or barter to use a friend#146;s, or even your customer#146;s computers.
Remember, you do not need to know everything there is to know about computers. You just need to know how to use the basic operating procedures of the computer and the business-related software on which you are working!
It will help you, too, to have access to a person who can help you if you run into computer trouble. Often times, this can be your own children!
Upgrade and/or purchase of additional equipment, etc. needed for your specific business*
Some of these machines have multi-capabilities such as a plain paper fax machine with photocopying capabilities.
These are some of the best low-cost businesses for mothers featured in categories that experts say will be in demand as we enter the next century. However, they are not the only ones and de-pending what equipment you already have and will need, you may spend more (or less) than $100 to get started.
For some businesses a trade association* is listed or some recommended publications or other helpful sources. *Please note: Many of these associations do not have business start-up information and also are often staffed by volunteers, so a LSASE (long, self-addressed, stamped envelope) from you for inquiries would be helpful. As mentioned before, also check your local library and other entrepreneurs for additional information.
In recent years, many businesses #147;downsized#148; their employees in efforts to economize or often as the results of #147;take-overs or buy-outs#148; by large companies. However, in this process, they often let workers go who performed valuable services for them. You can take advantage of this by offering to do these tasks that their remaining employees may not be able to handle or are too over-burdened to perform.
1. BILLING SERVICE
Often times, small businesses or seasonal businesses need assistance with their customer billing as they cannot afford to hire staff and/or only need to do their billing on a weekly or monthly basis. They forget or delay their billing and may fail to systematically check which of their customers has or has not paid. Your billing service could provide accurate, on-time monthly invoices for your clients. You can add collection services to your fees for customers who have overdue accounts.
*Sage U.S. Inc.,
17950 Preston Rd., Suite 800, Dallas, TX 75252. (972) 818-3900.
is a popular time and billing program. It has versatile invoicing capabilities and includes a variety of billing arrangements and full customizable bill formatting.
You may also want to specialize in certain types of billing, such as in the health care field.
If you have worked in bookkeeping departments or have had bookkeeping basics in high school or business school, you will have skills valuable to many companies. As with billing, many owners of small, growing companies are overwhelmed by business bookkeeping and do not have the time to do an adequate job or they may relegate a (reluctant) spouse to do this. Small, seasonal businesses many times fit this criteria.
With your bookkeeping business, you can arrange to make regular visits to your customers#146; offices, but do the majority of the work from your home. One tip is to consult with your clients#146; accountants so you know how they would prefer to have the bookkeeping records organized. They may also refer you to other of their clients because you will help make
Bookkeeping Tax Preparation: Start Build a Prosperous Bookkeeping, Tax Financial Services Business
, by Gordon P. Lewis. 1997, Acton Circle Pub. Co.; ISBN: 0963937170.
3. TRANSCRIPTION SERVICES
A transcription service involves the typing of notes made from recorded records. Many transcriptionists specialize in certain professions: medical and health care, legal, commercial, journalism, investigative reporting, etc. Transcription can also be part of a business service such as a secretarial/word processing service or office support service.
How To Start a Home-Based Secretarial Business
, 2nd ed. by Jan Melnick. 1997, Globe Pequot Press, Old Saybrook, CT.
Transcription Skills for Business
, 5th ed. by Linda Mallison, Lois Meyer, Ruth Moyer. 1997, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
4. MYSTERY SHOPPING SERVICE
One way small businesses can compete against the huge #147;mega-stores#148; is to offer exceptional customer service. To do this, you can start a mystery or secret shopper service for companies to help them evaluate the treatment of their customers. If you have worked in a certain industry or part of a chain of stores, you can offer this service based on your experience.
*Judith Rappold, President, Business Resourcesreg;, 2222 Western Trails, Ste. 107, Austin, TX 78745; Workshops, materials ($599 + $10 shipping for materials only). Send a SASE for info.*Feedback Plus, Inc., 5580 Peterson Ln., #120, Dallas, TX 75240-5157; a company that sends independent contractors to report on companies#146; customer service. Send a SASE for info.*National Shopping Service Network LLC, 3190 E. Evans Ave., Denver, CO 80210.
In almost every household, you will find candles#151;both practical and decorative. They are popular gift items and can be made for every occasion. They can be sold in gift and specialty stores, through mail order, at craft shows, and through the Internet. Candles can be made at a relatively low cost. Some people purchase candles already made and add decorative touches such as pressed, dried flowers to the outside.
If this creative craft interests you, research as to what kinds of candles are being produced, and see what creative ideas you can use to originate your own unique candle line.
The Candlemaker#146;s Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to Rolling, Pouring, Dipping Decorating Your Own Candles
, by Betty Oppenheimer. 1997, StoreyCommunications, Pownal, VT.
*Barker Enterprises, Inc., 15106 10th Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98166. (800) 543-0601
; $3 for catalog#151;features supplies and books for a candlemaker hobbyist or entrepreneur.
*The Wax House, P. O. Box 103, Mequon, WI 53092; has the book,
Starting A Candle Business
, $12; $3 for catalog.
6. CUSTOM SEWING
The American Home Sewing and Craft Association estimates that more than 21 million people sew from their homes. If you have the ability to sew, you can offer such services as alterations, canvas repair, antique quilt restoration as well as sewing your original creations such as Christmas ornaments, custom slip and chair covers, hats, Christening gowns, prom dresses, chef and barbecue outfits, swim suits, ladies#146; suits, soft toys and sculpture etc., etc!
The Business of Sewing
, by Barbara Wright Sykes. 1992, Collins Publications, 3233 Grand Ave., Chino Hills, CA 91709-1318.
How to Start Making Money with Your Sewing
, by Karen L. Maslowski. 1997, Betterway Books, Cincinnati, OH.
*American Home Sewing and Craft Association (HSA), 1350 Broadway, Suite 160, New York, NY 10018, (212) 302-2150,
Experts in the handcraft field estimate that the crafts industry generates almost $10 billion in annual sales. Depending on your craft, you can sell your crafts retail, wholesale, or one-of-a-kind. The hardest obstacle to overcome is to find that market for your particular product. You will have to do your own #147;test-marketing#148; by trying the different ways to sell your items: craft shows#151;retail or wholesale; galleries; to catalog houses; mail order; custom orders, kits, etc. Keep up-to-date with the latest trends and try to find your own #147;niche#148; market for your crafts.
The Crafts Report
(magazine for the professional crafter), P.O. Box 1992, Wilmington, DE 19899; 1(800) 777-7098;
How To Start a Home-Based Craft Business
, 2nd ed. by Kenn Oberrecht. 1997, The Globe Pequot Press, Inc. P.O. Box 833, Old Saybrook, CT 06475-0833.
The Craft Business Answer Book: Answers to Hundreds of Troublesome Questions About Starting, Marketing, Managing a Homebased Business Efficiently
, by Barbara Brabec. 1998, M. Evans Co.; ISBN: 0871318326.
8. SPECIALTY FOODS
If you have a knack for cooking, canning, or a special recipe that has been in the family for generations, it is possible to make money with your culinary skills or information. You must check with your state regulations on cooking from your kitchen. You may be able to use a church#146;s or organization#146;s kitchen if you cannot use your own. Here are
just a few
of the money-making food businesses that women are running:
Special Desserts#151;selling to caterers, restaurants
Cooking Instructions#151;lessons in your home or your clients
Special Cakes#151;birthday, wedding, novelty
Meals-to-Go for busy families
Start-Up Guide, #147;Marketing a Family Recipe.#148; $69.50 + $6.75 shipping, 1(800) 421-2300.
From Kitchen to Market: Selling Your Gourmet Food Specialty
, by Stephen Hall, Upstart Publishing Co., Inc., Dover, NH.
If you love to cook and have expertise and training/background in meal planning, you may want to start a menu-planning service for families and individuals on special diets. Plan a month#146;s meals and provide the recipes.
Menu Celebration! Menu Planning for the Family Every Day of the Year
, by Lee Cannon, Dorothy Wells. 1995, Owl Bay Pub; ISBN: 0963856898.
With the popularity of specialty foods and cooking, and homeopathic medicines, herbs are much in demand. Herbal oils and fragrances are also being used in aromatherapy. They can be grown in almost all seasons, in greenhouses, sun rooms and/or outdoors in relatively small spaces. Dried herbs can also be sold to crafters and florists for wreaths, floral arrangements, etc.
Growing Your Herb Business
, by Bertha Reppert, 1994, Storey/Garden Way Publishing, Pownal, VT.
*Herb Growing and Marketing Network, PO Box 254, Silver Springs, PA 17575-0245,
11. SPECIALTY CROPS
Specialty fruits and vegetables will continue to grow in demand as people want to have chemically-free produce and professional and hobbyist chefs look to expand their culinary skills with new recipes. Old and new varieties of peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and many others are sought out by cooks. Even small plots can be profitable.
Backyard Market Gardening: The Entrepreneur#146;s Guide to Selling What You Grow
, by Andrew Lee (Burlington, VT: Good Earth, 1995).
How to Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops
, by John Jeavons, Ten Speed Pr; ISBN: 0898157676
12. LAMPS LAMPSHADES
Home decor and home remodeling are popular pastimes for many homeowners. Many people also like to shop at flea markets for good, used items, especially lamps and wood furniture, but often the lampshades need to be replaced or re-covered. If you have basic sewing and mechanical skills, you can have a lucrative home business making lampshades, re-covering old ones and doing simple lamp repairs. Lampshades can be covered by cloth or paper which can be decora-tively pierced.
Lamps Shades: Beautiful Ideas to Make Decorate
, by Juliet Bawden. 1997, Sterling Publishing, Inc., NY.
* Mainely Shades, 100 Gray Rd., Falmouth, ME 04105; 1(207) 797-7568.
*The Lamp Shop, PO Box 3606, Concord, NH 03302-3606, (603) 224-1603,
13. REFERRAL SERVICES
With our hectic lifestyles these days, many people do not have the time or expertise to look for the best personal or home services they may need. A referral service refers people to the busi-nesses and/or professionals they need. These can range from child and elder care to home repair services. You can specialize in the services in which you have knowledge and/or the experience to evaluate their quality. You are paid by the services you list or sometimes by both the business owners and customers coming to you.
How to Start Manage a Referral Services Business
, by Jerre G. Lewis Leslie Renn. 1996, Lewis Renn Associates, 10315 Harmony Dr., Interlochen, MI 49643. (231) 275-7287
14. CHILDREN#146;S PARTY BAGS
If you love children and enjoy planning for parties, you can give busy parents help by having a children#146;s party business. You can plan the parties and arrange the cake and entertainment, etc., or do the entertainment yourself. Also popular now is to sell all the #147;fixings#148; for the parties (related to popular children#146;s characters or themes) in bags that can be ordered from you in advance containing all the decorations, favors, and even game ideas.
Child Magazine#146;s Book of Children#146;s Parties
, by Angela Wilkes. 1996, Dorling-Kindersley, NY.
Children#146;s Party Business
(booklet), info: SASE to PY Huff, Box 286, Sellersville, PA 18960.
It#146;s Party Time: How to Start Operate Your Own Home-Based Party Planning Business
, by M.L. Hine. 1996, Carlton Press, NY.
15. IN-HOME CHILD / ELDER CARE
The need for quality in-home child care and eldercare (with the #145;aging#146; of the U. S. pop-ulation) is predicted to grow in the next century. If you are interested in providing care of either children or mature adults in your home, check with your state#146;s regulations. You can also start your own home-care placement service to provide caregivers to give assisted living to elders on temporary or long-term basis. A background in child development, health care, geriatrics, social work, or psychology is helpful.
*National Association for Family Child Care, PO Box 10373, Des Moines, Iowa 50306. 515.282.8192,
Send a LSASE for more information.
*National Association for Home Care, 228 7th St., S.E., Washington, DC 20003; LSASE for info.
*Start Your Own At-Home Child Care Business, rev. ed., by Patricia Gallagher. 1994, Mosby-Year Book, St. Louis, MO.
16. ERRAND SERVICE
As the baby boomers reach their fifties, so will the market for personal services needed by this aging population. Errand services are also needed today for busy parents, persons with disabilities, and even businesses. You can specialize in one-type of errand like grocery shopping or offer a diverse selection for your clients.
How to Start and Operate an Errand Service
, by Rob Spina. Legacy Marketing, $29.95, 1(888) 725-2639.
17. IN-HOME TUTORING
If you have the credentials and expertise in such subjects as reading, English as a second language (ESL), high school math and science or college entrance-exam preparation, or other school subjects, and you enjoy teaching on a one-to-one basis, you may want to start an in-home tutoring business. One woman started tutoring junior high and high school students after school, in her home, who needed academic help and those seniors applying for scholarships. In ten years her venture has grown to a state-licensed business offering tutoring by one of her fifteen, part-time teachers in the remodeled Victorian home she purchased for her business or in the homes of the students themselves.
Becoming an Effective Tutor
, by Lynd B. Myers. 1990, Crisp Publications, Menlo Park, CA.
*National Association of Tutoring, Jacksonville State University, Ramona Wood Bldg. #105, 700 Pelham Rd. N., Jacksonville, AL 36265-1402; Send a LSASE for information.
18. TRAVEL PLANNING
Travel will continue to be #147;hot#148; in the next century. You can work as an independent travel sales representative. You refer clients to travel agencies with whom you work and receive a commission for this referral. If you live in a tourist area or have a town with historical significance, you could arrange your own tours. One woman writer of ghost stories gives tours of her town#146;s homes that are reported to be haunted.
Home-Based Travel Agent: How to Cash in on the Exciting New World of Travel Marketing
, by Kelly Monaghan. 1997, Intrepid Traveler; ISBN: 1887140042.
19. PERSONAL ORGANIZER
If you have a passion for organization and order, you may turn these skills into a successful business helping individuals and business persons organize their homes and offices. You can help market your business by giving #147;How to Get Organized#148; lectures or courses in your community.
*National Association of Professional Organizers, Po Box 140647, Austin, TX 78714; Send a LSASE for membership information.
20. PET BUSINESSES
If you have knowledge of certain animals and pets, you may be able to specialize in one or more services for them. These ventures can include cleaning pet yards, grooming, pet sitting in your home, running a pet taxi, and others. Knowledge and a love of the animals for whom you care is a must.
Career Success with Pets: How to Get Started, Get Going, Get Ahead
, by Kim Barber. 1996, Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc., NY.
From Problems to Profits: The Madison Management System for Pet Grooming Business
, by Madeline Bright Ogle. 1995, Madison Gray, Inc.; ISBN: 1878795252.
Pet Sitting for Profit: A Complete Manual for Professional Success
, by Patti J. Moran. 1997, Howell Book House, Inc., NY.
*Pet Sitters International, 418 East King St., King, NC 27021-9163,
Whether you choose one of the above businesses or not, let them stimulate your thinking. Draw upon your own skills, and interests, and research to find the best business for you.
For more information on these and other home business ideas try these helpful books:
101 Best Home-Based Businesses for Women
, by Priscilla Y. Huff, 1998, Prima Publishing.
More 101 Best Home-Based Businesses for Women
, by Priscilla Y. Huff, 1998, Prima Publishing.
Mompreneurs#151;A Mother#146;s Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Work-at-Home Success
, by Ellen H. Parlapiano Patricia Cobe, 1996, Perigee Books.
copy; 1998 National Association of At-Home Mothers. All rights reserved. Permission granted for use on drlaura.com
was provided by
where you#146;ll find complete support and practical information for the at-home motherhood lifestyle, including the
National Association of At-Home Mothers, At Home Mother
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Grant Consultant, A Great Work At Home Biz
Jillian Coleman copy;2003
Are you racking your brain, looking for a way to stay at home with your family, and still make a comfortable living?
Are you a good communicator? Can you sit with another person and understand what it is she wants? Then can you talk to her so she has a clear idea of your thoughts and opinions? Can you express yourself well in writing - take scattered information and put it together on the page so it makes sense to the reader?
Do you like doing research - digging deep and finding information? Are you computer and Internet savvy? Are you good at conceptualizing ideas, making plans and implementing them effectively?
Do you get a charge out of helping other people accomplish their goals? Are you inspired to improve your community and create new resources? Do you enjoy variety, and managing your own time and workload? Want to be your own boss?
Would you like a career that provides some visibility, and the opportunity to be well respected for your contributions, while you earn $50 to $150 an hour?
If this sounds like you, I'd like to suggest the best career you've probably never considered: grants consultant.
A career as a grants consultant does not require a college degree. This is a career in which your performance is much more important than any educational credential. Of course, grants consultants must be professional in their appearance and presentation of themselves and their services. That doesn't mean suits and high heels, however. The majority of clients are in the helping profession, so the dress code is usually business casual.
Grants consultants provide services to non-profit agencies and businesses in their communities. These services may range along a continuum from very simple to very complex. At the simplest end of the continuum, a non-profit agency, such as a shelter for battered women, may not have sufficient staff to write a proposal for a grant they have identified. So they enter into a contractual arrangement with a grant writer to prepare the proposal. Many agencies routinely use contract grant writers. Other agencies hire staff grant writers, and allow them to work from home.
At the more complex end of the continuum, a group of investors may be interested in building an affordable housing project. The consultant may participate in planning the project, help structure a consortium, lobby legislators, provide public relations, work with neighborhood associations, find a variety of funding resources, and write the grants proposals. At this level, the grants consultant may take an equity position and own part of the project, as well as earning a developer's fee.
Obviously, the services you could provide as a grants consultant depend upon your training and your existing knowledge base. If you have a background in business, management, finance, or real estate, that background has provided you with skills you may be able to share with your clients.
But even if your experience does not touch upon those areas, you can learn all the skills necessary to find funding resources and write effective grant proposals. And as you work on more projects, and gain more experience, you have ever-greater skills to offer your clients.
Here are three steps to get started on a career as a grants consultant:
Make an assessment of what you have to offer now. Write down the skills you have developed thus far, through previous work experience, volunteer work, education or training.
Enroll in a comprehensive, high-quality training program for grant writers. Be sure the training emphasizes research skills; writing foundation, corporate, and government proposals; and the politics and procedures of dealing with funders and clients.
Jump right in! Select a cause you support within your own community, perhaps your child's sports team, or a non-profit daycare center. Identify a small need (under $10,000), such as uniforms or playground equipment. Then volunteer to find money for them and write a grant proposal. With a couple of successful grants under your belt, you can begin to market your services to paying clients.
Jillian Coleman is a consultant to businesses and non-profit organizations. Her website,
, is a resource site for entrepreneurs, grant writers and consultants, and offers online training for grants consultants. Jillian is the author of books related to grants and business, including Big Bucks: The Complete e-Guide to U.S. Government Grants, and Build Your Small Business Now! Secrets of Success for Entrepreneurs.
Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com .
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Are You Stuck In Startup Phase?
By Kristie Tamsevicius
In reality, the business that you have built may be nomore than an elaborate "job" for yourself. Sure you getto be your own boss and work from home, but if you wantto make more money, you need to start thinking like a franchise. Ask yourself, "How can I systematize and automate my business so that it can run without me?" How can you make the process of delivering your product or service turnkey so someone else can easily replicate it?
In his book,
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most SmallBusinesses Don't Work and What to Do About It
,Michael Gerber explains this concept perfectly.He explains why McDonald's restaurant calls their business"The Most Successful Small Business in the World." In1952 Ray Kroc experienced great success when he discovereda way to create hamburgers "quickly, efficiently, inexpensively, and identically." He devised a process so simple that any high school kid, anywhere, could replicate it. He took that "process" and developed his franchise. That's why you don't need Ray Kroc himself to grill your burger in order to get that McDonald's experience. If you go to a McDonald's anywhere in the world and order a hamburger, you know exactly what to expect because of the standards and procedures he established.
If you were to sell your business today, could it runwithout you? Try to see yourself as a young Ray Kroc, creatively think about how you can make the move from being self-employed to being in command of an efficient self-serving business enterprise.
TOP FIVE REASONS WHY PEOPLE STAY STUCK IN STARTUP STAGE
Many new business owners seem to get "stuck" at thisbeginning stage of business and don't push to the nextlevel. Here are the major reasons why people fail tomove past the startup phase of business:
Complacency: It's easy to get caught in thestatus quo and become so busy that you forget to planfor the future. When things are going smoothly, it'sa perfect time to dream, ponder, and plan your next moves.
Lack of vision: If you could do anything in yourbusiness with no limitations what would you do? Spend some time daydreaming. Brainstorm with your business coach or a friend about what's possible. Don't stifle yourself by waiting for the "good" ideas. Let the ideas flow out of you. Then narrow the list down to the winners. Keep an idea file and store all your thoughts there.
Loss of control: If you aren't careful, expandingyour business could lead to added responsibilities,lack of control, and loss of freedom unless you systematize your work duties. Imagine your business as a machine. If you wanted a machine to perform better, you would probably need to add a high performance engine, oil it, and make sure it is well maintained. Similarly, when you grow your business, you will need to add the people and parts to perform the extra tasks. Growing the business does NOT have to mean that you personally do more.
Fear of change: Routines feel comfortable, like aworn pair of jeans. And changing your business can bea fearful thing if you let it. Once you acknowledgethe things you are afraid of, they lose power over you.Like the mice in the book
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Navigating the Choppy Waters of Family Owned Business
By Dr. J. Mitchell Perry
JM Perry Learning Technologies
The US Small Business Administration reports that family owned businesses in this country are alive and well. In fact, 90% of small businesses are family owned. So the good news is that there are a lot of families out there involved in owning and managing businesses. The bad news is that managing the business while keeping family members functional, well adjusted, and happy is a tall order indeed. Most family businesses have poor futures: 3 in 10 will survive transition of ownership to the next generation. Why?
Most of the time the issues that arise center around reconciling: 1. For the business: power, control, and succession, and 2. For the Family: Love, loyalty, and #147;fairness#148;
On one hand, family members often have good intentions. They want to feel love, loyalty and protective of each other. Too often feelings of suspicion, self-protection, jealousy, hostility, betrayal, avarice, and guilt take center stage when conflicts emerge surrounding the major omnipresent question: #147;How do we make this business grow, become profitable, and be successful while at the same time making family members involved feel loved, reinforced and rewarded?#148;
Many times huge conflicts evolve that either break up families and/or ruin businesses because the efforts to answer this question are managed so poorly. Because you love a family member has often little to do with that same member being competent, equipped, or suited to handle a specific job in the company. Your interest in being #147;fair#148; can be in direct conflict what is best for the company. Problems arose at International Rectifier in the mid 90s when the two sons of International Rectifier chairman Eric Lidow almost lost the company due to sibling rivalry. Alex Lidow, current CEO of the company, said about his brother, #147;We were products of a competitive upbringing and I had to resolve a lifetime of issues.#148;
What can your company do?
KEEP THE DIALOGUE GOING: The moment family members quit talking for whatever reason is the minute the conflicts become untenable and the stage is set for lawyers to take over. Remember, the more talking and conversations occur the better the chance for resolution.
GET OUTSIDE HELP: Too often, family members are too emotionally involved and therefore will have trouble thinking objectively about what is good for the business. So, get outside facilitation, mediation, and consultation when it comes to securing succession plans, control assignments, and organizational changes.
STAY FOCUSSED ON THE BUSINESS: Make the hard calls on what the business needs. Sometimes that means removing and/or reassigning some family members. While tactically this is often painful, strategically this will insure the business being solvent and secure.
REGULARLY DISCUSS THE PLANS AND GET THEM IN WRITING: Have family members participate in the making the agreements and plans. Make sure you write them down in plain English and then review them periodically.
MAKE SURE LOVE IN THE FAMILY IS DEMONSTRATED IN OTHER WAYS: If love is shown only through compensation, control, status, and other rewards in the business, you have trouble. Take the time to develop and nurture other dimensions of family closeness outside the business.
MAINTAIN THE USE OF MULTILE OPTIONS: People naturally polarize when there is conflict and tension. This creates right/wrong, good/bad, win/lose, success/failure thinking which results in escalation of anger, suspicion and defensiveness. Remember that 3 options or more will always calm down this problem. Always use the magic of multiple options and you will be amazed how you can balance business with family priorities.
Remember the purpose of business is to be successful which requires competence and intelligent planning. At the same time, family success is determined by different variables like love, reinforcement, loyalty, and closeness. Managing these two major systems requires skillful navigation in often stormy seas. Keep the above ideas on your radar and the sailing is likely to be much smoother.
Dr. J. Mitchell Perry is CEO of JM Perry Learning Technologies. To reach him call 800 JM PERRY or go to
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