Is the Family Business Right for Me? And Other Important Questions to Ask

You’ve grown up in the family business your whole life. Helping your parents pack boxes as a toddler to working the weekends during high school to taking on more responsibility on college breaks. But now you’re out of college. Maybe you’re working your first full-time job. Or maybe you’ve been out of the family business for years but you’re thinking about coming back. How do you know the family business is right for you?

Jonathan Michael of Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella sat down with next generation leaders of our community to address some important questions that you should be asking. You don’t know what you don’t know and the more you can find out before you take the leap of faith, the better.

Personal / Family Questions:

  • What experiences can you bring to the business? What unique value do you offer?
  • Would it be beneficial to work outside of the business first or jump right in?
  • What are you bringing to the table in terms of outside knowledge and experience?
  • What does your current career mean to you? Are you happy where you are or are you seeking new opportunities?
  • Owners want the next generation to be as committed as they are. Are you prepared for longer hours and other sacrifices?
  • How can you demonstrate your commitment? Think about ways you can immerse yourself in all parts of the company so you know it inside and out.
  • If you’re having trouble communicating with the senior generation, put yourself in their shoes. Why are they thinking and acting in that way?
  • Is it better to become your own entrepreneur rather than taking the reigns of the existing business?

Business Questions:

  • Is there a clear succession plan in writing?
  • Have you seen the financials of the company? If not, when will you?
  • If you do join the family business, is there a formal plan to move you forward and promote you to new positions?
  • How will you gain equity? Based on tenure or achievement?
  • Do you know the purchase price of the business? Are you prepared to take out a loan?
  • Has the company been appraised? Do you know its value?
  • Have you explored all of your options? Every business and every individual is different. There are many resources out there to help guide you to the best decision for you.

Some of these questions require self-reflection and goal-setting on your own. Other questions may require family meetings to learn more about the family’s vision and the logistics of the company itself. Take your time to work through these questions – they just touch the surface of all that goes into the process. Remember to seek resources when needed.


Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C. logo
If you’d like more information on succession planning, please contact:
Jonathan W. Michael
(312) 840-7049


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