When You’ve Got Untrained Family in the Family Business…

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Having family in the family business can present major challenges. Here’s a situation expressed to me recently by an entrepreneur facing retirement:

  1. I have been manufacturing a range of confectionery products for the past 40 years. My son, who went to business school, and has been in the business for the past 9 years is now ready to take over as MD.
  2. My brands, especially the Busta Lollipop, resonate with kids aged from 1 to 91, but revenues have been flat for 6 years and profits are declining.
  3. The strategic intent of my energetic son is to double revenues and quadruple profits in the next 5 years.
  4. My sales and marketing manager of 22 years will never exert the energy to meet this objective and must be transferred to another department, probably inventory and credit control.
  5. My son’s wife who has been customer service manager for the past 3 years is very charming, knows all the major customers, and the entire staff of 68 like her. But very bright daughter-in-law is a linguist who never took even one business course while in college and has shown no such interest during her time with us.
  6. Anticipating imminent changes, daughter-in-law quietly made it known that she would like to be the next sales and marketing manager because of her excellent customer and staff relations. She further expresses that managing the field sales force of 7, all of whom have been there for 7 years or more will be a breeze, given her people skills.

I’ll carry to my grave memories of my blood, sweat and tears while building my business out of nothing. My son is very capable; but appointing his untrained wife as sales and marketing manager? I’m not sure. I’m my own man and I make my own decisions. But I need advice on this one. Herman D. Alvaranga is president of the Caribbean School of Sales Management.


4 thoughts on “When You’ve Got Untrained Family in the Family Business…

      • Well a textbook response would be ‘not great’. But I’ve seen people without a day of training do excellently in sales/marketing roles because of their natural abilities – and she might be one of those people. And there is also the option for her to seek outside assistance via a marketing agency. The question is whether marketing knowledge trumps knowledge of the industry and the business – which I’m not sure it does in this case.


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