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Family Business vs Corporate Job vs Startup

Making the decision if working at the family business vs job at corporate level or going for the startup adventure isn’t easy at all.

After my graduation at Tecnologico de Monterrey in 2014 for a career in business administration, I also presented myself with several questions that probably many of the second or third generations of family businesses deal with.

Should I be joining a family business or should I stay in this city and try to find a corporate job and gain some experience outside the family business?

Do I really want to be in the active job search, fill up my resume with only the experience I have in the family business, or should I seek other industry?

Keep reading to learn more about what has been my experience from the Family business vs Job vs Startup.

Family business vs corporate job vs startup
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Table of Contents

The Family Business experience

First, the story.

My parents are from a city called Chihuahua, which is in the north part of Mexico. As they were a young married couple, my grandfather asked my father to go to the city of Agua Prieta, Sonora, which is also in the north of Mexico, to take care of some land and do some real estate businesses.

For my parents, moving from city to city with two children was not easy at the beginning, until they settled in this small town. (I was still not born)

My father started with the real estate business and as my mother also had the need of generating her own income, she started to sell shoes.

My parents started to do trips to Los Angeles, buy shoes, and my mother sold them house by house with my two siblings.

Eventually she started to grow her own business, and a friend from Ciudad Juarez recommended her to sell kitchen furniture.

So they gathered the initial investments, and again my mother started to sell.

I was born until 19 of October of 1989, and my parents were growing the businesses.

By the mid 90s, my parents already had a women’s clothing store, baby clothing store, the furniture business, cars sale, and the real estate business. They were becoming business leaders showing family values with business goals being achieved in the city. It can be said that a small corporation was growing up until…

As many young couples face their internal problems, it also happened to my parents that they got their issues until they got divorced in the early 2000s. 

As a kid, it is hard to understand family issues and family relations, but one questions why was my father sleeping with me in my room. Why are there strange behaviours at the family and so on.

And the thing is, there was no question that the family owned business was going well, and as I say, managing a business is the easiest part, but managing people, and especially with family members is when it requires more work.

A divorce impacts a family business

For more contracts and terms and agreements that a family business can have, even before a divorce, the business itself will receive the impact.

Family businesses deal with it, if the family atmosphere is not good, even if people try to hide it, also the business atmosphere will be affected.

I was a teenager already, and I still was not fully attentive on how the business decisions were made, but I can be assured that they were not the easiest one to do with a family division.

Of course, the family businesses came down, and my mother kept the furniture store, and my father kept the car sales and the real estate business.

The baby clothing store was closed and the women’s clothing store was sold.

Here, you know, it is also when the complication began, who do I listen to and who is the right one, my mother or my father?

My mother said that the changes she had to make were to protect us and give us a good career.

My father said that he didn’t want to take any of my mother’s business.

As my siblings are older than me, they left our hometown to study in another city, so I was left alone, until I also acted the same way, who wanted to stay in a broken environment?

So I left my hometown first to try to be a professional soccer player, but it didn’t work out for me, so I changed schools again and went to Monterrey and stayed there for 8 years.

At that time my parents were working on their side with their own business, but certainly it wasn’t the same. 

Should I go back and work for the family business or search for a corporate job in Monterrey?

During my career, I did an internship at a consulting company, but as a part time intern, basically the job was making some Powerpoint presentations, and I can’t really say it was a real job. 

And one of the most common questions after graduation is, what do I do now?

I had an invitation to an interview in Monterrey, but I rejected it since I decided to come back home and help my mother for a while with the family owned business.

I had the feeling of reciprocity of paying back my studies and helping her out with the small business, but also I had the dream of going back to Germany and living there, since I did an exchange program there.

This is probably one reason why some of the second or third generation decide at last to work at the family business, due to this “debt” that we have with our parents. 

It is not an obligation, but it is a moral decision. And honestly, if we see it from a perspective from a business owner, entrepreneur or with this Rich dad Poor dad mindset, we are building up the family wealth. 

BUT, we do have the desire for adventure, and who can blame us?

So the plan was, ok I work here at the family business for a while and I seek out to go to Germany, and that is what I did.

We opened a second branch store of the family business and I started saving the 10% of the income that it was generating.

I was not being paid a salary, so that is another hard issue to deal with at some family owned businesses.

Again, if you focus, the business grows, and so it happened that the business was going up again.

In the meantime, the building that we rented had a space for a small café, so my mother invested on it, and eventually my sister said, that is my dream, so she left the city were she was leaving and moved back to our hometown, but again, the family relations between her and my mother were not really good, so it had a rough start.

I also started the blog in 2015, and it became my interest to learn more about online businesses, digital marketing, digital entrepreneurship, WordPress, Social Media and so on.

Eventually, I got accepted in 2016 in the university of Heilbronn, so my dream of going back to Germany came true.

The Corporate Job Experience

Should I go back and work for the family business or search for a corporate job in Monterrey?

This story is a bit summarized, because it also deals with me and the Hashimoto Testimonial story that brought some difficulties that didn’t stop me from pursuing what I wanted.

I arrived back in Germany the 19 of October of 2016, my 27th birthday.

That international experience made me feel proud because it was a point were I was fully independent, no need for the family business money to fund my needs.

And that is probably another thing second generations seek, to be independent and build up yourself your name or proof of abilities.

During my second semester at my master program in International Business and Intercultural Management, I had the financial need to seek out a small job or student job, otherwise I could have seen how my savings were going down.

I started to search out at the university job portal, and I found a student job at an IT company in Heilbronn who required WordPress, Content Marketing and Social Media, and it could also be in German or English, that sound like the perfect job for me, since those were the skills I was developing by my side time in the university and while working at the family business.

So I prepared my resume in German, and wrote the cover letter in German, so it got more complicated. Luckily a German friend helped me with the corrections and recommendations. 

Honestly, I don’t like the process of dealing with resumes, but it is how the system of getting hired at businesses works.

I sent my information and waited a couple weeks and I got an answer that my documents were going to be checked out. I received a call from my eventual boss, in German, which I barely understood, and kindly asked for the information by email. I understood that it was an invitation to an interview.

I attended the main headquarters for the first time in Neckarsulm, but the job was in a daughter company in Heilbronn, just across from my university, so just perfect.

At the interview my two bosses asked me, do you prefer German or English, which I obviously answered, English please. And the main interview focused on my experience in the digital marketing world and about my blog.

Actually, that experience was more interesting for them, of course since that was what they were looking for. Of course, they asked barely about my studies and the family business, but most of the conversation was about digital marketing.

I got hired, and that turned out to be the first real job outside the family business, which became a whole new experience.

I worked for nearly 20 hours per week, and the activities were focused on content creation.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder

After I graduated, I had a talk with my boss where she asked me what were my plans after finishing my master, which I honestly said, my first idea is to stay here if you offer me to, and that even I could seek out to work for less days, since I had in my plans to eventually seek for a PHD. 

They changed my contract, but a couple months later, the main headquarters decided to do some internal changes, and they brought the Content Marketing team to the corporate level.

I can’t say that I was seeking out to jump to the headquarters, but for me it just happened. I had a sort of dual position working with the Corporate Marketing team and Corporate Communications team. 

And this I have to share it for the second and third generations, working at a Corporate Job can be really comfortable and easy going compared to a Family Business, because you just work from 9 to 5, you receive your monthly secure payment, you don’t have more worries than your own tasks, you have your own set of holidays, which in my case was 24 days per year, plus sick days, and that is it. 

The day by day of working at a corporate job you have to deal with your everyday tasks, with meetings and the necessary activities that eventually come up.

For me, working at a Corporate Job mainly left me good experiences, but also, I do think that in family business second generations we prefer to work focusing on changing things, improving results, and spot business opportunities in how to get better, but this doesn’t happen easily at a corporation.

As an employee, you can give recommendations, but it will depend on the boss, and the boss of the boss, if they decide to make changes. This hierarchical structure of business leaders in corporations creates a slower decision making process.

Or as it had happened, some other departments contacted me to see if I can support them, but if the boss didn’t authorize it, it was directly a no that didn’t depend on me.

The Startup Experince

2020, The Year Of Life Changing Decisions​

Early 2020 seems to be a normal year.

In my hometown my mother and sister were dealing by their own side with the furniture store and with the restaurant, and my father had a job at the local government but occasionally had some work about real estate.

Again, the corporation made some changes and the content marketing team was moved to another business unit.

We were being restructured and also the marketing campaigns. Again, business leaders’ decisions and not necessarily mine.

But, eventually the first wave of Covid-19 came and probably most people forgot to focus on their jobs and focus on their lives.

I was also struggling to gain my health and emotional balance, and during an intense spiritual practice at the lent of 2020, I had a spiritual emergency. 

As everyone was on their lockdowns, I was hospitalized and I can say that I had my remote lockdown in nature, while most people were at their houses.

My family had to close the doors of the businesses eventually. My mother had to do the payroll from her own pocket to support the financial crisis that closing businesses had. 

After 9 weeks of being hospitalized, and the world slightly coming back out from the first wave, I also came back to my job. 

People had the option to do home office or work at the offices, but for me, and for sure for everyone, things just were not feeling the same.

One of the effects of a spiritual emergency is that the ego that has been built, gets dissolved, and I had the sense of doing more than just my corporate job. 

I talked with my boss, and I wasn’t unsure of what I should do, but I asked if it was possible to keep working with them on a project basis as a freelancer from Mexico, which I also am grateful for accepting.

With the world unstable, my family worried about the circumstances, and me also having to regain balance and the desire to do more, I decided to leave the German dream and come back home. 

17 September 2020, the rebirth of my blog, the beginning of my Startup

As I arrived back on the 7th of August 2020 to home, I primarily focused on finding a good doctor who can guide me properly, and also I focused on joining family business and to lifting up and setting back in order the small business.

One of the main desires that has been for my sister and I, was to move my mother’s main store to another place, for several reasons. The rent was in dollars and not in Mexican pesos, the place had received several coursings and even weird demonic or bad vibes paintings, the place was not exactly on a commercial location and it has been more than 20 years on a place, so also there was the need of change. 

So eventually, my sister recommended that I check a place in one of the new main venues of the city, but it was a building that required investment to be lifted up. 

At first my mother disagreed, so some things remained the same for a while. 

One main big issue of family businesses is that second and third generations want to bring change and new ideas, but the previous generation of family members oppose change.

This also generates the desire for second generations, like me, to question the status quo and seek for new business opportunities.

Usually the first generation, that set of first business leaders, pass their family values to the second generation, which also involves the gene of being an entrepreneur.

So I decided to open up my blog again, which I closed it back in my spiritual emergency.

Now, with the experience of working at an international corporation, and with a more international focus, I started to invest in it, not anymore as my personal blog, but looking at it as my new Startup project.

The advantage of family businesses and deciding to develop a Startup, is that you can focus on both thanks also to the support of the family members.

After nearly a couple years that I have developed my site, I have grown in numbers of visitors and even affiliate marketing sales.

I have also now developed a Text to Speech software, that can serve as the first SaaS that I am running, and there are still things to be improved as Artificial Intelligence is bringing up new features.

The advantage of running your own Startup, for me, is that the decisions are made by myself, which if your entrepreneur personality is like that, then running your own business can be the best decision.

I have some more ideas that I have to develop, but so far, I have been enjoying this Startup entrepreneurial path.

You have to love when you make mistakes, because it is how you learn.

The freelancing jobs that I received have helped me to fund myself the project so that it keeps growing.

Final opinions of Family Business vs Job vs Startup advantages and disadvantages

I do recommend family planning so that you don’t have to start out from scratch. 

It is really important to set your own goals, so that you can conjugate the family business goals with your own life goals.

The advantage of family businesses is that they have years of work and strong brand presence in the respective market. When you work at your family owned business, you are working within your group to work on your family business brand.

But it can be seen as a disadvantage that the industry is not of the one of your desire, there might be family issues that will put you on nerves, and the paycheck might not be as you desired, but still you are building the family wealth.

As mentioned, the advantage of the corporate job is that you are introducing yourself to a new working style and organization that will bring you up with new experiences, a stable paycheck and holidays.

But the disadvantage is that you are working to build wealth for the shareholders, you have to be active job search, fill up resumes and you depend on the business leaders to make decisions.

The advantage of building up your own startup business is that you are in charge of your own project, and the only one who you have to give results to is yourself.

The disadvantage is that as any new business, it will require double or triple the effort to bring up the business, since you are building up from scratch, but with the experience and background that you have. The paycheck at the beginning is probably non-existent, until it generates enough revenue, but it is recommended to reinvest.

In the end, it depends on what your desires are for your own future, but certainly building up the family business wealth creates a strong foundation for building that desired future.

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