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Jul, 01 2008

A family in business

Remember your old kiranawala who used to keep his son at the shop to serve the customers in the afternoon. The evenings were taken over by his father who was retired and was now keeping himself busy being involved in his son`s shop. The mornings were serv

Rakshit Bhargave, 30, spent around 10 years of his life working for other companies before he came across an opportunity of starting his own business. Being in the HR team of the company himself he was well aware of how tough it is in today`s time to face the talent crunch. Starting the business was never a problem for him, as he took the franchise of a well known brand, but running the business was. While running a convenience store he has to be at the store at 6`o clock in morning and has to serve customers even till 11 in the night leaving no time for his family. Even when he is not serving the customers there are many other things like supply, logistics, accounts and many more to be taken care of. He sighs, “I wish I had more than two hands”.

This wish of Bhargave can not be granted but some lending hands can be involved in the running of the business. Bhargave thought of involving his father in the business, who was about to retire from the army. With his father being involved he was able to pass on many of his responsibilities on his father`s experienced shoulders. With the growth of the business the demand to be there round the clock in the business grew further. This led to Bhargave involving his wife and mother too in the business. Being together in the business and sharing responsibilities it became easier for the Bhargave family to spend time with each other. Moreover, nobody complains of not being able to spend time with each other.

Bhargave is one of those who are happy to work with their family as they can trust the family more than the employee. And the commitment your family members show is hard to find in today`s time.

Given the commitment of a family an individual starting his own business can bank upon their abilities. Below we highlight the stories of two successful franchisees who share their experiences about working with family members.

Living & working together

How can your family help you in sailing through the thick and thin of your life and also through your business can be better understood by meeting the Singh family in Delhi. Manjeet Singh (62), BSc.MSc. and Retired School-Principal from a Government School was evaluating various available opportunities after retirement until he came across the Jetking franchise. After doing sufficient marketing research about the brand and also about the franchise support provided by Jetking, Manjeet got associated with the company. Today, Manjeet Singh is acting as the Director of Jetking Okhla Learning Center. Not just Manjeet, every member of his family is playing a contributing role in this business. All of them being experts in their area of operations have divided the work among themselves so that each area of business operation gets the proper focus.

Talking about assigning different areas of operation to each family member Manjeet Singh says, “Being the head of the institute, I take care of all the operational issues and general management of the business. Bhavneet Kaur (my daughter) – (MBAPhd. Marketing) takes lead in faculty management, and local marketing for business growth.

Jaswinder Singh (my elder son) – Computer-EngineerMBA – takes care of the technology aspect of the business and is also acting as the placement head. Kanwal Deep Singh (my younger son) – banker (MBA Finance) – takes care of the finance and quality control of the business.

Even the franchisors are happy to see the kind of commitment the family gives to the business. Avinash Bharvani, VP Franchising, Jetking Infotrain says, “Since they have put in their hard earned money, the entire family is involved in the business.” Jaswinder and Bhavneet open the centre at 6:45 am in the morning. Bhavneet leaves at 5:00 pm and there on, her four-year-old child `Preet`, takes the responsibility of placing Jetking stickers on his books and walls. Manjeet reaches the centre at 12:00 noon and takes the responsibility from there on and is there till 9:00 pm – when the centre is closed for the day. Kanwal Deep remains at the centre in the evenings.”

Talking about the concept of a family playing a role in the franchise business Manjeet Singh happily says, “Since all of us are together with different expertise areas – all are contributing significantly towards the success of this venture and it`s bound to succeed.”

We all are part of the same family tree and hence we understand each other very well. This helps us in better coordinating the different attributes of the business.

Ending the conversation on a positive note Manjeet adds, “For a successful business it is required to have the best team. Your family can be your best team.”

Drawing strength from each other

Another family which runs a food outlet took to the rescue of his family as they can better understand the 24 hours of work involved in running an outlet.

Rajesh Khanna, with a Diploma as a mercantile marine officer (Deck side- merchant navy), worked for four years and ran a business of exports for three years in Delhi before he moved to Goa. He then started tourism related activities including a 24 hour café called Tropical from which he expanded to the food court business as his family moved to Goa as a very viable lifestyle change from the hectic Delhi lifestyle. This was the period when he landed up investing in the properties surrounding the Café and the idea of starting a food court came up during his visit to Singapore. While looking for options and collecting data on such a concept he came across information regarding a new chain; Club City. The format and the sub brands appealed to him. While working on the architecture of the place his wife and parents made active participations in giving a lot of ideas and started a food court with garden seating under a semi open environment, with food stalls around it all done up in a rustic way with a Goan touch to it.

In between the family had another series of discussions during the implementation of the concept and realised that even though they started off the concept with a complete focus on economics and real estate value; this was turning out to be a fun thing to be involved and then come up with a basic format as to how each one of them could be useful.

“I realized in the bargain that without compromise all four of us had some basic pluses in us, which could not be replaced with hired help,” recalls Rajesh. “For e.g. my dad having been in the Navy and led an extremely disciplined life would be the best administrator for the business; my mom having done her schooling from Chelsea & Bede`s in Shimla had great exposure to the fine things in life, having the ability to keep all of us in check and was the best in-house critic and quality controller we could ever find; my wife who has experience in the F & B trade and is extremely regimental in routine matters was the best person to head the office and accounts; I, of course, the dreamer that I have always been and having the ability to find solutions when none are visible (at least, I have been thus far lucky enough to), would probably do well in taking the concept to the next level as well as douse all the fire in our path to make this a lucrative business,” he adds.

The Khanna family have all been a critical part of this business and besides the special skills that each one has possessed and developed over the years, there could possibly be no perfect replacement.

Talking about the commitment the family gives to the business Rajesh says, “Ours is a 24 hour operation and each of us divide the time in such a way that at most of the critical hours one of us is there.”

Adding to sharing responsibilities towards achieving the common goal Rajesh says, “Even though we have differences of opinions once in a while we know that each of us have a common goal; which is the collective success of our family run business.”

Role of family

Though the positives of working with your family cannot be overruled, there are still a lot of issues one should consider before involving one`s family in the business as it`s all not that rosy as it sounds. Your family relationships might be the best in the world. Each one of you knows each other well. But, while working together differences of opinion do crop up and at times take such a bad shape that not only the business comes to a loss, it`s the relationship which is also at stake. Though there are rules which if followed carefully can lead to a healthy work relationship within family.

Khanna advises, “It is important that each one realizes the importance of not only their role but also the importance of the role of the other in running the business and keeps aside false pride and ego and do not let anyone in the organization take advantage of any such difference of opinion.”

Understanding, trusting and helping each other to overcome challenges would serve as a key to success in a family run venture.

When people know you as a family, they build a bond while dealing with you. If the members of your family are not supportive of your involvement or commitments in the business you can not give your best to the business to make it a success. But, if your family understands the care and attention needed for a business in its early stages, it can contribute to a higher level in the better running of the business. Working with your family provides you an enhanced opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a supportive relationship.

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