Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Should I leave?

A lot of you (I am always amazed at how many leavers there are) ask me if they should leave the family business. Though I can't answer the question for you, I do my best to give guiding food-for-thought, mostly from my own experience.

If you are considering leaving the family business you should give the following some thought, weighing up if the price of freedom is something you are willing to pay:

  • What will happen to the relationship with your family?
    In my case it completely broke down. Once I told my dad that I decided to leave, everything—and I mean everything—was over. Animosity grew between us, pushing us and our families apart.

  • Do you have a new job?
    By this I mean: do you have a signed work contract with your new employer? I had a promise which was broken and I ended up on the breadline for 4 months till I found a new job. I'm not saying that you should find a job before you leave, but if you decide to leave before you've found something, make sure you plan for it.

  • Consider financial issues that may arise.
    Depending on how it goes with the two points above, you may end up on your own without the financial backing a family business may offer. Make sure your cash flow is planned down to the cent for the next few months, especially if severance pay is not made available to you and there is no job on the horizon. You should also give some thought to the fact that your future lifestyle may take a plunge with the possibility of a major salary reduction in your new job.

  • Is your wife/husband/partner behind you on this?
    You will be going through some very rough waters and it is important that your partner is there for you and strong enough to withstand. Financial worries add serious strain to your relationship and this should be in your thoughts.

  • What is the price of FREEDOM?
    My opinion? It's priceless! But then again, this is for you to decide for yourself.

If you decide to go for it, stay focused and confident (planning helps a lot with the latter). Freedom doesn't come cheap, but once you're there it tastes great!


  1. I am so glad I found your blog. I am in this exact situation. I have been considering leaving the family business for a couple years now. My dad found religion a few years ago, which has caused even greater tension with personal life affecting business. He cannot separate the two and told me last week he does not respect me. My pay is not even enough to get out on my own after almost six years of financial sacrifice (no promise of increase, even though the company is growing), so I would definitely need something lined up. I do have friends who will help me with a temp place to stay and I also have contacts who can help me get work. Leaving the family business will guarantee the end of the relationship with my parents. How did you approach your dad with leaving the business? Any advice is greatly appreciate as my father is very controlling and extremely manipulative.

  2. Hi @Anonymous! My answer is long... You've asked a big question...
    Could you reach out to me via email -- more than happy to talk. theleaver@leavingthefamilybusiness.com