With permission granted, allow me to share with you an e-mail I received.
Dear Mr Kong,
I am a 26-year-old college graduate currently working in my family’s business. I am male and come from a traditional family. I would like to keep my real name a secret so, for now, please call me Alex.
The reason I am writing is because I am completely lost on what I want to do in life. Currently, I am helping my dad in our family business. After graduating from a college with a degree in Management Engineering, I went straight to the family business. The first few years after college, I was a bit happy go lucky. Recently, I started to grow tired of what I’m doing.
A number of factors have been pushing me to find a job. I believe I will do well in the field of programming or IT because I am very passionate about it and I possess the tools for the job (I think I’m good with numbers and logical reasoning)
Back in my high school days, my dream job was to do IT work with multinational companies. Although programming was not a part of our college curriculum, I study it in my spare time and have become proficient.
I’m currently doing some freelance programming to keep my skills sharp.
Another factor is peer pressure. All my friends are working in the corporate world and I feel a bit jealous. I want to feel the satisfaction of getting my own paycheck and buying things I want with my own hard-earned money. In our business, I am given a little weekly allowance. If ever I want to buy something expensive, I can ask for more money from my Mom. Although she gives it to me, it hurts my pride to ask her every time I need to buy something.
The income we get from our business covers our family’s expenses. However, I have no passion and love for my work. I continue to work in the business because it is what my parents want for me and it is also what will make them happy. I try to work hard, but there’s this feeling deep inside of me that keeps on nagging me, telling me this isn’t what I want to do.
Another reason why I chose to stick around is because we are short on manpower. My dad, I, the family driver, and another worker basically run the business and my dad will be very disappointed if I leave to look for a job. I’m also worried that I may lose the opportunity of earning a huge income. There’s the old cliché that what you earn in the corporate world will never be enough to start a family. I don’t believe it’s true, but my parents do.
Lastly, I am more comfortable working with my peers. I’m a very outgoing person and being cooped up at home (which is also our office) day after day just drives me crazy. I don’t know if I’m just being immature and trying to use the “this isn’t what I want to do with my life” thing as an excuse.
I don’t even know if finding a job I like is what would give me joy. It sounds a bit melodramatic, but it’s just that I feel this emptiness deep inside me from time to time. I need a change.
Should I try to find a job in the corporate world that I am passionate about and turn my back on possibly greater income from our business (I’ll still help out with the business though)? Or should I continue working for the family business and try to change my attitude about work?
Thanks and regards,
Many traditional family businesspeople still run their businesses the way they run their family, not professionally. They give their children allowances and maybe a little bonus at the end of the year.
Their philosophy? “Don’t give them too much money. They might waste it.” Or “don’t pay them too much money, they are still immature.”
Well, if they are immature and do not know how to handle money then why let them run the business in the first place. This is insane.
Do not allow your businesses to drive your children away! This is the reason why many family businesses are not doing well. And now I know why more and more small business owners attend my leadership seminars. They’re asking for help. It’s never too late to have a new beginning.
Print ed: 05/10