Generational Gap

Struggles of Working in a Family Business

Working in a family business is like an irony. People would think that because it's our own family company, we have a lot of rooms to grow and move around and change things as we deem important. But truthfully, it's harder than it looks. Here are some of the struggles I've encountered:

1. Passing the baton

My father is a self-made man. His family came from nothing and being able to build his own entire company until having what we have now, is something he values so much. It’s his baby. Maybe it's even where he puts his identity in. So that being said, I felt there were a lot of difficulties for him on giving up control and authority. Company structure became messy and I wasn’t the only one who was having trouble positioning myself in the company. The employees were also confused on whom they had to report to, because the business was slowly being passed onto his kids.

But seeing from his point of view, he saw us as kids who weren’t ready to be passed on the family business. This create a lot of tension, because trust was now at stake. My father might have felt that as kids we will never be “man” enough to run the business, but we as kids, we wanted our chance to prove to our father that we were capable. But there was nothing that we could do except to wait (impatiently), until he felt that we were ready.

Sadly, when things at the company are bad and you just want to wind down at home and not talk about business anymore... you still have to sit at the dinner table with family and still discuss business, which makes it hard to separate business from personal feelings and family.

2. Bringing education to the workplace

I was blessed to have the opportunity to have my university education in America where I was exposed to Western ways of thinking and mentality. I took business as my major, so when I went back to Jakarta, I wanted to implement a lot of the same things in the company to make it more forward. But with the different culture and years of an immersed tradition within the company, it wasn’t so easy to penetrate it. It would take a lot of time to make our employees and employers understand why we would want to shift some of the ways we traditionally do it.

But all  that said, I have realized a few things: honest communication is very important, establishing boundaries and positioning ourselves in the company is also key, and taking things easily, or in other words, argue your arguments, but when it’s done, make sure it’s a clear and finalized before you leave it.

3. Depending on God

Finally, my foremost important takeaway from working in a family business is that it makes me understand more about having God as our center as the most important thing in my life. We can get caught up with work and businesses or talk about it neverendingly, which can make it our identity. But without God as our core foundation, we will be easily shift and forget what exactly is the entire purpose of work. Working in a family business requires a lot of patience, and when we try with our own strength, it will never sustain. But with His love, it’s not impossible.

All of these times, it never occured to me to put my faith and trust in Him within my workplace, gosh ..it never really crossed my mind to do so. Maybe because it was too far of a reach that even thinking about it was just ...off. But one thing that God revealed to me at my time at Resource Global was when He helped me understand that His heart is never pointed to only one part of our lives, but to all extended parts; and seeing people from different nations and cities having the same heart that wants to glorify God with their work was another proof that nothing is too big or too far reached for Him.

Velencia Bong, Jarakta Cohort Member 2018