When my parents (Betty & David) asked me to join my family business 21 years ago, little did I know what I was getting myself into, or how exciting but downright challenging it would be.
Working with my parents, who I had not lived with in several years, was the first huge learning curve.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my mum and dad, but I soon found that when you work for yourself and your family, everything becomes that little bit more personal. Little things can escalate into big things if you aren’t careful and misunderstandings can be taken home. We had to strive to be better communicators and over time we learned to leave the work baggage at the door.
Pros of working for a family business
- We are all on the same team
- We work together on solutions
- Absolute trust in each other
- We can rely on each other
- Supportive environment
- The knowledge it will always turn out ok in the end- even when it doesn’t feel like it.
- We stand side by side, unlike other firms where people leave when times get tough.
Cons of working for a family business
- The arguments and disagreements
- Taking things personally
- Worrying about letting others down.
- Can never have the same time off with each other
- Feel guilty about taking time off
Things I had to learn
- Don’t take everything so personally
- There is always a solution to a problem
- Face problems head on, being an ostrich will not make the problem go away
- Be kind, it costs nothing
- Listen to others, they can add a great deal of value
- Seek advice, no-one is born knowing everything
- Trust your gut, if it feels wrong, it probably is wrong
- Do not rush important decisions
- The only wrong question is the one you didn’t ask
Leading the way for change
I had an awful lot to learn, this was a whole different industry than I had been trained for or worked in before. Back in 1999, arguably, it was still very much a man’s world. I joined a company that, up till that point, employed only one woman – my Mum.
Mum (my hero) and I worked hard together in those early years, with Dad and everyone else, to challenge the sexist attitudes and opinions that were rife in the industry and change perceptions of women in construction, as well as grow the business.
As the years have passed, the challenges have continued, changing as the industry itself alters.
We have seen materials come and go; some thrive whilst others fail. We have seen the same with our competitors, suppliers and customers. We have entertained different markets, some more lucrative than others.
Always rolling with the punches and thinking on our feet, we are proud to be a company that works hard, on behalf of our clients, colleagues and suppliers. We offer expertise and insight and work to resolve issues if and when they occur, always with the best outcome in mind.
The Legacy Continues
Now in 2020, the heart of our family business is still strong, but the business looks very different.
We have grown our team from 6 to 18 (including fitters) and consider our fabricators and fitters to be part of our growing family. My younger brother Paul finally conceded and joined us in 2016 and is now a firm member of our team. Mum has retired and David, my Dad is making plans to retire at the end of this year.
Working for a family business, there is nothing like it, we care, it is as simple as that. We care about each other, about our customers, suppliers, reputation – we just care.
This simple principle has served us and our clients for the past 22 years and will continue to do so for generations to come.
I am proud to be leading BSF into its next phase, and I am blessed to have stood on the shoulders of giants to do so!
Thank you for reading, all the best, Nicola