Stacy Harris and her large family live in Alabama where they specialize in outdoor lifestyles, and cooking. In the photo on the left Stacy and I are discussing our respective outdoor books while we are being filmed by one of her sons.
After the death of my wife, Thresa, of Pancreatic Cancer, I live and do my businesses by myself, but for those who still have families at home, there is every reason to incorporate them as part of a family-based business. I can cite no better example that Stacy Harris who was a lawyer and gave that up so that she could spend quality time with her expanding family. She used her attractive appearance and organizational skills to start a family-based business from their Alabama farm.
On their farm the Harris family raises livestock, keep a vegetable garden, harvest wild game, put up vegetables, tend their fields and woods and attempt to live in harmony with nature, man and each other. Except for the availability of modern conveniences, they live in much the same manner as their ancestors in the early part of the 20th Century. Each of the children have functions for which they are responsible. Everyone works together on some projects and independently on others. When one of the children happens to be away, the others pick up those tasks; because every day the eggs have to be gathered, the cow milked, the food cooked, etc.
Each of the children are encouraged to discover things of particular interest to them and develop the necessary skills to practice them. They have also become a multimedia team whose jobs might include speaking at events to their same-age peers, participating in completion of the family’s most recent book, filming videos on seasonal topics or being interviewed by radio and TV hosts. They live out the old saying that, “Many hands lighten the load,” and take considerable enjoyment in doing things together. Their lives illustrate family bonding at its tightest.
If this sounds like a utopian vision of family life compared to what is going on in your family, it may be a considerable improvement. There will always be disagreements, discussions and arguments between family members, but all such can be resolved because everyone can see that they are working towards a common goal – using themselves and their activities to earn money in a healthy outdoor setting. If you would like to see the video that we produced go to: https://youtu.be/3O_FalOf91s .
Many immigrant families started businesses by including family members. These might include ethnic kitchen and food service establishments that might work out of a kitchen in a Chicago apartment. Perhaps this business is importing specialized foods from their home countries. This might be in some service industry like hair or nail styling. Or even selling craft items that are made by members of their extended family who still live in their home country.
Not quite the same are the many actors and musicians who grew up in this environment and with, or without, their family members help established their own careers in the same field. There are occasional scripts where parents and children might appear in the same production, but these are uncommon. A part of the reason for this is that there should be only one director for a film, and what parent can avoid the temptation to direct his own child, whether he has that title or not? If you are Clint Eastwood, you can cast and direct your own children in your own movie and see how things work out.
Although easier to do it in a fiction piece than an autobiographical one, it would be interesting to see a coming-of-age novel in a modern setting with alternate chapters written about the same events from a parent’s and a young adult’s perspectives. More commonly such different perspectives have been brought out during a courtroom examination or through the use of internal or external dialogues. In a play one half of the stage could be lit with the parent telling his/her version of the story and the other half with the child presenting his/her perspective – alternating back and forth, rather than doing the typical scene changes. Maybe someone has done such a play, but I don’t know of one. That would be an interesting piece of stagecraft.
Sons apprenticing at their father’s shops is customary in many cultures, but now the modern-day mix would also include daughters working with their dads and mothers instructing their sons. This system is predicated on the proposition that that the kids want to do the same things that their parents did, which is commonly not the case. They may learn the skills while they are young, but break away as soon as possible to discover their own interests. Some will occasionally return to the same jobs held by their ancestors for generations, but with new insights on how to do those tasks faster, easier and more profitably.
Several successful family-owned companies in the outdoor industry have a policy that if a young family member wants to be in the family business they must get their college degrees in some useful field, work outside of the industry for a period of years and then be invited in as a junior member of the company. No one automatically gets a job just because he is the son or grandson of the company’s founder. He has to prove his worth to his uncles, aunts and cousins before he can advance in the company.
At the end of his working career the company founder needs to take account his possible successor within the family and the loyal workers within the company. Perhaps none of his relatives want the responsibility or can handle the challenges of running a company. The founder can sell his company to an employee or employees, close it and dispose of its assets or just do nothing. There is no reason to saddle a person with a company who does not want it and will not run it well. It is far better to sell it off while it is prosperous than after it has failed and has a much-depreciated value.
These and many more business concepts are discussed in my forthcoming book, Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife.” This book will be available in August and advanced orders may be made using the Pay Pal button below. This offer includes my autograph and free shipping. If you buy only one business book in your lifetime, this should be the book. This is an outrageous statement for me to make. I challenge you to see if it is so.
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