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Is it easy for young people to start career in family business in Nepal?

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While looking at the literal definition, family business is the business that is taken care of by synchronization within the family members. According to a recent data shown by the Family Firm Institute, family firms account for 70-90% of annual global GDP and it is also a large source of job creation creating 50-80% of the jobs.

If family business is able to create such large proportion of jobs for the outsiders, is there also a probability that a family business can be an easy career start for the members inside of the family itself ?

Though, it might seem easy on the surficial level to become a member of the family business and continue the legacy, the reality can be quite different. To gain a perspective on how dynamics of family business works and how young people perceive it, we interviewed various young people who have had a family business to know if the existence of family business in their case helped them mould their career in a different manner.

Bilal Ahmed Shah – The man who reshaped his family business:

Bilal Ahmed Shah, the CEO and Founder of Latido Leathers is a man who used the craftsmanship of his father and decided to carry the legacy that his father had created but in an innovative way.

His father used to be an excellent manufacturer of leather products who used to manufacture leather goods as per the orders of other retailers. However, Mr. Shah, who was intimidated by the art his father had, decided to come up with an innovation of customized leather products eliminating the third party channels and he decided to have one to one dealing with his user-centric customers giving them a personalized feeling.

When you make the decision to enter into a family business, the decision is not entirely yours but is also highly dependent on what the family members have to say about the decision. Mr. Shah explaining about his journey said “In the earlier phases, I was only acting like an assistant to my father who was the founder of the business. I believe that is the case with most of us. It is in the initial phase that we need to exhibit a lot of patience as we will not see results coming out then and there and hence there will be situations where our capabilities will be questioned. However, if you have a clear vision, you have the motivation to learn things and only after you learn things can you undertake huge responsibilities and that’s when you start feeling more satisfied.”

Mr. Shah gave an example of his journey stating “Earlier, my father used to look after the factory and our manufacture would almost stop without my father. Slowly and steadily, I started learning things and implementing them and when my father realized I had become capable to undertake the responsibility, he gave me the freedom to take the important decisions in the business and take it forward according to my vision.”

So, as explained by Mr. Shah, entering a family business and taking over a family business are two different things. You take over when you show the desire to learn and that is most important, no matter what kind of business you choose. Even in case of a family business, a lot of learning is required before a person can actually take over the business and the learning process comes with its own ups and downs just like any other business.

Sakshi Manot – The woman who is in constant pressure of preserving the family prestige:

Sakshi Manot is the owner of Galleria, a Guy Laroche, Ted Lapidus and Pierre Cardin franchise in Kathmandu with three outlets at Labim Mall, City Center and Bishal Bazaar respectively.

She is a woman who undertook the family business with the motive of continuing her family legacy and increasing her family prestige in the corporate world.

Many a times, a lot of people discredit the people who continue and carry on their family legacy by saying that it is something they got as a blessing and it is something which was gifted to them and not something they created on their own.

Talking about this, Ms. Manot said “It all depends on people’s perspectives. Continuing the family business has its own set of challenges. People who decide to take on their family business are in a constant pressure to maintain the expectations that have been set by all the stakeholders – whether it be the family members or the customers. When you are deciding to become the part of a family business, you are also deciding that you will work in a way that the set benchmark is met and maybe you reach above the benchmark but you cannot afford to let down anyone.”

Hence, as Ms. Manot said, sustaining and expanding an existing venture is as difficult and complicated as initiating a whole new one and it is important the society does encourage all those who decide to continue their family legacy because they are already in constant pressure of maintaining the standard that has been set.

Ashraya Raja Baral – The man who seeks for expansion of the family heritage:

Mr. Ashraya Raja Baral is the man who wants to carry his family business of Narayani Auto Business forward and has taken the first step towards it as a learner.

While looking at a family business from the surficial point of view, many young people do believe that family business can become boring in the long term as it doesn’t allow place for much innovation and creativity as things have already been set.

Contradicting to this perspective, Mr. Baral stated “The greatest strength of family business is the opportunity for expansion. You can expand the family business and that’s where you show the innovation. In case of family business, the base becomes really strong and hence adding elements to it becomes easier.”

Mr. Baral gave an example of a sweet shop. He said “It becomes easier for the family heir to expand their sweetshop into a restaurant business if it is a family business they are carrying forward. It is easier to use all the competitive advantages your family business has created for itself and expand it further. After all, who wouldn’t want to come to a restaurant that has been established by a famous sweet vendor?”

Hence, growth requires people and for a family business to become an empire, it is imperative that the family members come forward and take responsibility and accountability for the growth of their business.

Pratik Agrawal – The man who built an empire with the basic foundation that was handed over to him:

Pratik Agrawal, the founder of Natraj Boutique and Regal Incorporation, is a man who took over his traditional family business of fabrics and developed it into an empire that has gained increased popularity over the years.

When talking about pressure in a family business, Mr. Pratik said “There is immense pressure while continuing family business.” Giving his own example, Mr. Pratik said “Even when I work for eighteen hours, I do feel unsatisfied and have a feeling that I left something incomplete. However, the best stress buster for me has been the co-existence of my brother in the same business who has been helping me throughout and who has made things a lot easier for me.”

As Mr. Pratik said, “In case of a family business, you can feel increased pressure but you can also experience a lot of relief as you are constantly aware and confident about the involvement of your family members. There is an unsaid and inherent feeling of trust and understanding that you experience with your family members which gives you a sense of security and makes you work better. In my case, this support has been given to me by Ashutosh Agrawal who is my brother.”

Thus, as humans we tend to work better when we have a sense of security and that feeling of security is highly present when you have your family members working with you. This has to be one of the greatest aspects of becoming a part of a family business.

Shivam Agrawal – The risk taker who has built a startup venture along with having an age old family business:

Shivam Agrawal, the CEO and Founder of MIC for Youths, is a man who decided to build his own startup venture when he already had an age old family business onboard.

According to Mr. Shivam, “When you have a family business you get to learn a lot of things whether it be how money making is done practically, about what discipline business requires as we observe our parents all our lives and how to maintain ethics in this world of rat race. These things can ultimately be implemented in one’s own venture which did help me in the establishment of my startup venture.”

As Mr. Agrawal explained further he said “You don’t always have to choose in between a family business and a startup venture. They can both be taken hand in hand – that is how huge empires are built. And hence if any young person looks forward to doing something passionate to change the existing status quo, they shouldn’t have to avoid or overlook it just because of the existence of family business.

Also, when asked for a tip on how to run a family business efficiently, Mr. Shivam said “It is imperative that in order to bring innovation in a family business, the older generation and the new generation needs to synchronize together. So, for this to happen, it is imperative for the older generation to be able to trust the newcomers and be receptive of their ideas. That is how creativity will be born.”

As rightly explained by Mr. Agrawal, a family business can only be effective if the new generation has the patience to take on what the experienced people have to say and if the older generation also gives a chance to the newer generation to show their creativity and take the business forward in a positive and new direction.

Mr. Anand Agrawal – The man who is to decide in between a family business or his own career:

Anand Agrawal is a high school graduate who is yet to decide and choose if he wants to take forward his family business or wants to choose a new career choice for himself.

Anand, who is currently analyzing the dynamics of his family business stated “Family business has its own set of advantages and challenges. The major advantage that I see in the family business is not having to do the difficult part of building the business. If I choose to become a part of my family business, I will be responsible for walking down the path my parents have already paved for me. The struggle will be lessened in quantity.”

 While discussing about the challenges family business, he further clarified “The major challenge of having to take over the family business is the pressure to maintain the standard of the family business. You have to walk the path that has been paved making sure that you don’t stumble much in between so that your family prestige and standard is not in stake.”

Wisely said by Mr. Agrawal, everything has its own pros and cons, it a lot depends on whether you consider the challenges that family business gives to be worth the effort that you put into it.

Hence, if we analyze what the different stakeholders had to say about family business, family business is not an easy way to start your career, but it is a career choice that you make and just like any other career that a person chooses to be in, family business too begins with the struggling and learning phase and with time it moves on to the responsibility taking and impact creating phase and then people slowly grow on to become what they have always wanted to be and are termed as ‘achievers’.

By: Mahima Poddar