Family Run Business

The Complete Guide to Quitting the Family Business

Quitting the family-run business is 100% possible and easier done than you think

A family business is such a wonderful thing for most people, but for others it can be the most miserable thing in your life.

Family Run Business

If you’re on this page, you’ve probably had enough of the family business and want to know how to quit without upsetting anyone or burning bridges.

Fortunately you have landed on the best page because I specialize in people leaving their job to do what they love, and I do this for a living!

In this article you will learn to identify why you want to leave the family business, why you might’ve joined in the first place and how to make the smoothest transition possible so you’re not left as the most hated member of the family.

It’s not easy but neither is staying in something you don’t enjoy and makes you unhappy, but it is certainly possible and you CAN be the in control of your own destiny again!

It is not YOUR fault!

It does not matter how you ended up at the family business, because at the end of the day you are there now and you are stuck in a rut.

I want you to know that leaving a family business is a difficult task and not always as straightforward as it sounds, as you’ve probably found out firsthand and the reason you landed on this page.

The level of difficulty it takes to leave increases with time and that’s why the longer you’re in the business for, the more you’ll feel like leaving isn’t an option

You’ll just feel like you’re letting everyone down and making them mad at you, and who wants to upset their loved ones, right?

Rarely anyone.

Have you considered all options and alternatives?


Below I list all the reasons you may want to quit your job, but before I show you them I want to know; have you done your due diligence to ensure you are absolutely ready to leave the family business, for ALL the right reasons and not just because you can’t stand your father or mother anymore.

You may have talked it out with your family members on a consistent basis, but the same issues arise and the exact same thing happens again.

If this continues to happen, maybe, just maybe it’s time to see a professional therapist.

They will help you understand everyone’s point of view and allow you to see the bigger picture and fully understand your parents anger and issues and not just your own.

You will grow immense empathy for others and it might be a lot easier than just running from the problem altogether and quitting

Also, another alternative to getting what you want is to simply ask.

Communication goes a long way, not just in the workplace but in everything in life.

Communication is everything and if you’re not letting people know what you want and what you’re looking to get out of the business, how can anyone help you?

Speaking up might be difficult for you, but it certainly is the best way to go about getting what you want.

Reasons You May Want To Quit

You have other dreams you want to pursue


Being in the family business might not have been your dream from the very start.

You might’ve been forced to join due to your parents and now it feels like you aren’t living your OWN dreams.

This is a very common reason so many people want to quit the family business.

They are grateful for the opportunity the family has offered them but, just like you’ve found out, it is not your dream career and you have other things you want to do in life.

If this sounds like you, at the end of the day it is your life and you should not live to make other people happy other than yourself!

There may be too much conflict


More often than not if you’re still living at home AND working at the family business, this can cause a lot of tension and conflict for everyone involved.

Not only are you in each others faces at home but also at work, and it’s affecting everyone involved, the quality of work but more importantly the family’s relationship.

And at the end of the day, we’ve only got one family and I don’t think it’s worth destroying your relationship over when there are ways to solve the conflict.

The best thing to do is solve the problems now or leave before it gets too out of hand and no turning back from something that someone may regret.

If you’re nodding your head in agreement, you know all too well what I’m talking about. It is certainly a viable reason to leave and you know it.

You’re experiencing extreme unhappiness


Maybe the job isn’t satisfying anymore, or you’re so advanced that there’s literally nothing more to it than what you already do.

You might also not feel that you get to make any decisions because your family is always making them, and they never want to hear your opinion even though you’re apart of the family business too.

Not feeling in control of your own destiny is frustrating and an overwhelming feeling of unhappiness can hover over you for a long time in this situation.

If you’re feeling unhappy and hate going to work everyday, without an ounce of happiness in your body, then something needs to change because this could lead to all sorts of problems later down the line, especially depression.

You don’t feel in control of your own destiny


Being in control of your own life and having the ability to make decisions to benefit you and your own future is true freedom.

Not being in control of your own destiny when you 100% KNOW how much ability you have and how far you can go, can be one of the most frustrating things ever.

A lot of workers in family businesses feel too much pressure to stay even when they don’t want to, mainly because it’s their families business and they don’t want to let anyone down.

But this stops you from living out your life and creating your own destiny.

I know you want more, I know retiring at the family business isn’t what you signed up for from the very start!

Well fortunately there are options to get out and I will discuss them at the bottom of this article.

You don’t believe that there’s room for change


If you’ve been in the same business for many years and still hate it, then what makes the upcoming years any different?

I’m all for positivity and optimism, but even after working years without finding anything new or exciting, anyone can see that something is not right and maybe you need a career change.

You need to find your job satisfying and rewarding, and if the family business doesn’t offer that, you’re only kidding yourself when you keep telling yourself “it’ll get better with time”.

Because more often than not, it’ll still be the same in the next 5, 10 and even 15 years down the line.

And are you ready for that? That’s the million dollar question.

Why Did You Join?

Were you all for the thrill of working side by side with your loved ones?


Did you just want to see what it was like to work side by side with your father, mother and siblings?

siblings

I know it sounds like an absolute great time as you won’t have to deal with the usual bullsh*t that comes with a real employer and coworkers.

You already know your coworkers and your employers brought you into this world, so what could go wrong?

Of course there are some pros and cons to this but if there are more cons than pros, maybe the thrill of not having a real boss just isn’t worth it.

Did you get offered the opportunity straight out of high school?


Were you offered the job from a young age and was it your first venture into the workforce straight out of school?

Usually this is the case with most family businesses and your parents expect you to do really well and take over when they retire.

This puts massive pressure on you after a few years down the line when you realize it’s not actually what you want to do in life and you have other dreams you want to pursue.

No ones to blame as most young people join the family business but the problems arise when you don’t actually want to do it for the rest of your life.

If there wasn’t enough problems in the family as it is, you wanting to leave is certainly going to be a big wake up call for them.

However, there are certainly ways to ease the pain and anger and I’ll talk about that in a minute.

Did you want to make your family proud?


Don’t feel bad if this is true because this happens a lot of the time.

You are young and don’t really know anything about the business world, nor do you want to let your mom and dad down after offering you an opportunity at the family business straight out of school!

This is a common reason people work in the family business, however, things become a little more difficult after you find out it’s not what you want to do in life and there are other things, much better things calling your name out in the big bad world!

How to Create a Smooth Transition

Identify the problems


Now I went through some reasons you may want to quit at the start of this article.

This may or may not be your problem, but you need to find the biggest problem you have with your workplace and take action at fixing them one by one.

Of course not all problems can be solved, and a lot of them won’t be solved due to other people (mom or dad) not wanting anything in their business to change because “we’ve always done it this way”.

If fixing a problem is a big no-no and you’re experiencing a great deal of unhappiness, changing the situation altogether is probably the best way and it will eliminate these problems instantly.

Even if that does mean walking away.

Is there absolutely no chance of change?


Have you considered all alternatives possible to ensure nothing is going to change now or later down the line?

Or is there still room for improvement in all areas of the business? (both relationship and workplaces changes)

I hope you’re not lying to me and coming up with all the excuses under the sun to avoid talking it out with your loved ones, because sometimes all it takes is a simple talk to work everything out.

Identify the pros and cons


I want you to identify the pros and cons for leaving your job.

Write them down and do that for the very first year of leaving along with year 3, year 5 and year 10.

You should come up with a lot of them, but a general thumb is this;

If you find that the cons heavily outweigh the pros, and the cons are making you unhappy just looking at them, then maybe it is in your best interest to leave and your hunches were right all along.

Talk to your parents and be 100% honest


Honesty is the best policy and being honest with your parents will be the best thing for you and your relationship moving forward.

They will respect your decisions as long as you’ve considered all the alternatives and you know that this isn’t the right career path for you, not now, not ever.

Tell them you are thankful for the opportunity, the skills you got to learn and experience you gained while working with them and that you are going to put what you have learned to good use in all other areas of your life, including your new career path.

In most cases they will be a little upset and maybe a little angry, but they will respect your decision and the anger will subside soon enough.

Don’t leave when emotions are high and at a bad time


Do not and I repeat, do not leave when important tasks are due and they’re counting on you to get them done swiftly and in a timely manner.

Leaving when the business is in distress could be one of the worst things you could do and might cause family issues that are even more difficult to repair later on.

You should also not leave when emotions are high, such as when you’re angry at your family members or when clouds of emotions are over you and all you want to do is drop your stuff and quit on the spot.

Doing this can and will create irreparable problems and the reason I want you to think rationally as possible when emotions are high and stress levels are through the roof.

Do not gloat or talk bad about coworkers or the company


Your parents are going to be upset as it is

If you start saying bad things about coworkers and other family members, you’re only going to make matters worse and you’ll have less chance of getting their blessing.

So the better option in this instance is to avoid “smack” talk at all costs and you should have a very successful transition from being a worker in the family business to a respectful and well-respected family member.

More importantly, do NOT talk smack about the business or be a negative nancy.

Do not gloat about your new career opportunity either, just tell them what they need to hear and that’s it.

Can you build onto what you learnt over the years?


If you seem to absolutely love what you do or you think you’ve had enough experience in the industry to move on to other roles at another company, this might be a viable choice.

Taking into consideration that your sole reason for leaving is that there is too much conflict and no matter how hard you try to solve the issues, it does not happen and it’s only getting worse.

You could leave and put those skills to good use by finding another career which offers better opportunities to grow and develop.

Don’t wait too long


Although you’ve probably known for a long time that you want a job more rewarding, take some time to think it over.

That also does not mean to wait years before making the move.

Waiting years can literally destroy opportunities in your future and not to mention the quality of your work.

You’ll feel miserable, unhappy and your work output will suffer as a result.

You won’t put as much effort into it.

Don’t burn bridges


You’re probably keen to get out and don’t care how you leave, but years down the line, that same person you burnt a bridge with might be your new CEO.

Imagine how that’s going to go down when you walked out on him 20 years ago, in the most difficult time, without a care in the world?

He’s not going to like you one bit and will probably make your life miserable all over again.

I know when I was young I did not care who I upset or left on a whim, but I also knew it would hurt me somehow down the line.

I burnt one bridge and thankfully that hasn’t come back to bite me just yet!

[Read: Quitting Your Job Without Burning Bridges

Conclusion


A family business can be a blessing and a curse, and if you’re still on this page, you’re probably in one of the bad ones.

Getting out is not going to be easy and there will be people upset, but at the end of the day you’re only trying to live your life and follow your dreams.

You’re not out to work for your dad the rest of your life!

You know what you have to do and fortunately I have provided everything you need to know in this article.

Thanks for reading.

Let me know in the comments below if you’re thinking about leaving a family business and what’s stopping you from taking the first step…

28 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to Quitting the Family Business”

  1. My old Friend from school called me a few moments ago, they have a company is their family where she works under the administration. She feels she need sto live to pursue her own dreams but she had worked there for 5 years! For God sake was your dream asleep for five good years? Well, I was confused, didn’t know what to tell her but you have written this pretty well and I was hoping you’d have an advice for her. Thanks

    Reply
    • Let them know you don’t plan on staying forever and that you’re starting to look for positions in your dream job. That’s the one advice that’s straightforward but still lets them know they have to start finding a replacement. It gives them lots of time without being too stressed.

      Reply
  2. Hi Brandon, thank you for this enlightening post. You’re right, leaving the family business can be a very difficult task for some, especially if the family is reluctant to let you go, despite the communication. But at the end of the day, it should be about what’s good for you, because you are in control of your own destiny.

    Reply
  3. I find this really interesting. I must confess this have been a really pressing issue in most family where one child has to keep up with with family business. I was also in that line where I’d have ti keep up with the chemical company my father established. I have zero interest in it from the start and when I was asked to take over it became a problem because I had other plans. I love this post for better ways given to quit this business.

    Reply
    • There’s so much pressure for these children that are told they’re going to take over the family business and they don’t even want to. It’s even worse when they’ve been in it for many years because they feel compelled to keep going since they’re so far in already.

      Reply
  4. The thrill of working alongside my family members and friends got me into this family business in the first instance and Im regretting ever falling for it noe that I do not have any firm if enthusiasm working directly in line with the family anymore. Everything feels choking and I just want to get away from it. You’ve provided quite a great number of tips that would help me out with departing from the work. Thanks so much for sharing this.

    Reply
    • You’re very welcome, RoDarrick. I hope you find a way out without creating too much tension and hate, and that the relationship with your family continues to thrive even long after you quit the job.

      Cheers mate 🙂

      Reply
  5. Hi Brandon, Thankfully I have not been in this position. You have given such great advice to anyone who is and I am sure they will find it very helpful.

    As you say, the best thing is, to be honest. Give your reasons for wanting to leave. Perhaps it is wise to look around for another job before you make the leap out of the nest.

    It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling protected especially if living at home and not taking the plunge to make the life you really desire for yourself.

    This was a good topic as there are so many young, and not so young, people still living at home and working for Mom and Pop. Sometimes they are well and truly entrenched and don’t see the way forward.

    After reading your post and the advice you have given,  will be just what they need.

    Kind regards,

    Jill

    Reply
    • Oh most definitely. It’s comfortable there, it’s safe and you know what to expect, so it’s easy.

      But on the other hand, it’s not what you want to do, you hate it there and you think leaving is simply out of the question.

      Well it’s not and this article helps you overcome all these fears and finally make the decision to leap out of the nest.

      Good luck and let me know how everything goes!

      Reply
  6. They say family members should never do business together. This is very true but I think that it is a bit different from being a part of a family business. It is really difficult quitting a family business. One can be guilted into joining and staying even when one is not interested because it is really difficult to turn such a request down especially when you don’t really have anything you are doing that is giving you money. 

    I have found myself in such a situation and have no idea how to call it quits. I am glad I came across this post because I have needed help with this problem for quite sometime.

    Reply
    • Hello mate. You’re on the right track, you’ve made up your mind that you don’t want to be in the family business anymore, and now it’s time to tell your parents (or whoever’s in charge).

      Use the tips and techniques in this article and it will go much better than you think.

      Reply
  7. Dear Brandon,

    Thanks a lot for the informative and insightful post. In the part of the world where I live in a few villages, there are parents insist their children do their family business and even the society does it.

    If they try a different business, they consider it a big sin and crime.

    You not only discussed the problems but you have provided with the solutions as well which is very helpful. I personally believe nothing can be achieved by forcing it. Doing the work which we are not interested won’t produce great outcomes. And as you mentioned conflict and unhappiness will be the outcome.

    It is always advisable to do what we love. As you mentioned, talking and explaining to our parents is the best way to solve this.

    Reply
    • Wow, that’s interesting information. What part of the world is this in, Paul?

      And correct. Forcing yourself to do something you absolutely hate just isn’t going to work. It might work the first few times, but then you’ll just be miserable and unhappy with your life even more.

      Reply
  8. I have been going back-and-forth for months now about leaving my family‘s business. My parents both take everything to heart no matter how you put things. I do not get paid enough money but at the same time I am worried about leaving and them not having my income. They don’t seem to care much about my pay considering all the money I do bring in for the company so I’m not sure why I care so much about their pockets when I need to worry about my own. I want to continue doing the same thing that I do now, but elsewhere. I do not see myself growing anymore if I stay with the family business I know that there is a lot more opportunities and a lot more money elsewhere without the headache and stress that I deal with on a day-to-day basis. Your thread really helped me a lot and I have saved it to my bookmarks to go back to, I am trying to build enough courage this week and next to be able to put my notice in a month before I leave. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Great job for trying to do you Ashley even when the family doesn’t agree with you. I say put your notice in writing and hand it to them, that way they see that it is actually happening and you’re for real about your decision.

      Then they’ll be able to get a replacement before you go. I really hope all goes well and there are no burnt bridges.

      Keep me in the loop. Good luck!

      Reply
  9. I have been putting off leaving my families business but my aunt knows that I have been unhappy. I feel she sees the writing on the wall. I am just trying my best to be professional and have a job lined up first. I want to leave on good terms as to not cause problems in the family. I love my aunt who is my boss. And I love my family. But I think in here heart she wants the best for me.  I think it is time for me to move on. 

    Reply
    • Only you will know what’s right for you, and it does sound like you really want to move on to a better career. I applaud you for taking the first step and I’m only a message away if you need any help 🙂

      Reply
  10. Thanks, Brandon.
    A great site for many to read. I understand all your ideas and they can certainly be put into action.
    In my case, as The Father, I have remained in the business and nearly all the kids have passed through.
    the last one did me a big favour leaving because it made me change my ways.
    I had to learn about internet marketing.

    My next step is to leave as well so I shall read through again to confirm my ideas.

    Kind regards

    Peter H

    Reply
    • Wow, really?

      Well I hope you still have a good relationship with your children even after one decided to leave.

      Good luck in your online business too!

      Reply
  11. Hello there! I never had the opportunity to be in a family business. I had and still have, so many issues mentally that I probably wouldn’t have lasted. There definitely are people out there who feel tied down and want to try something new. As a parent, I think this is a good thing. Let the youngster learn whether or not he or she can make it out there and have a lot of fun and satisfaction in so doing. I bet people who are doubting themselves will gain a lot from this article.

    Reply
    • Thank you Cathy. It takes a lot to get out of your comfort zone (trust me, I’ve made some drastic moves over the last year), but the results are incredible and makes me so much happier than I didn’t keep doing the “same old thing”. I just hope to inspire others to follow their dreams and do what makes them happy.

      Reply
  12. I was literally in tears reading this post because now it seems more real than ever. I’m 24 and i’ve been in the family business with my dad and sisters for three years. To be honest, sometimes, I felt like wanting to quit in life because I feel so hopeless and helpless. But after a year of reflection, i’m finally thinking of being more brave to pursue a different career, which is in line with what I want to do in life. I know I will suffer, but I want to suffer for the right reasons. I’m still very scared because in the Philippines, family means everything. But I dont want to continue living seeing myself in a sorry state anymore. Thats why i’ve i’m telling them this January 2020 and i’m going to work on the advices you gave. Thanks so much. Also, seeing this made me realize that I am not alone.

    Reply
    • I know it really does suck and you are not alone so don’t ever think you are. We are all in this together. As much as you love your parents, you can’t let them stop you from doing what you want with your life.

      Please come back and let us know how everything goes 🙂

      -Brandon

      Reply
  13. Hi Brandon, I work for my father, he is the business owner, it’s a machine shop and only 4 of us work there, my father, me, one other machine operator and the office assistant, I have a number of issues that I’m getting fed up with, IL list them…..
    1. I always had a good relationship with my father but now it just isn’t the same the only reason we haven’t fallen out is because of my ability to just say nothing, but this is wearing very thin and I’m concerned that soon I’m going to snap and we will fall out,
    2. if some thing happens it’s taken out on me my father had an accident in the company vehicle he phoned up work and had ago at me for it.
    3.i get the blame for things that are not my fault like when we finish work I have to go round and check every things off and the buildings secure other wise I get the blame for things being left on or unlocked,
    4. me and the other machine operator are working 60 hour weeks because we have too much work, we can’t keep up he says the extra hours are optional but gets up set if we don’t do them I have suggested getting more employees but my father doesn’t want too and just expects more and more from us and it’s getting too much
    5. I know I can get what I’m earning on a 60 hour week at other companies for just 40 hours a week.
    6. I’m soon moving further away and will have to get up at 5am to get to work on time and won’t leave work until 5.30 pm and won’t get home until atleast 6.30 pm.
    I worry that if I leave my father and me will fall out, I applied for another job before and he didn’t talk to my for a few days
    What should I do

    Reply
    • That’s a tough situation to be in. I’m so sorry to hear.

      As I mentioned in this article, the #1 thing is communication. You need to communicate what’s bothering you and why you’re not happy working for him anymore.

      You are bottling everything up and that is very unhealthy and one of the worst things you could do. I think you need to sit down and just tell him everything that’s bothering you.

      Because like you said, if you don’t, you’re probably going to snap and create more problems than necessary.

      You could also use your moving away as an excuse to find a new job.

      Just keep in mind that if you don’t fix the issue now, it’s only going to get worse later on and may even destroy your relationship altogether. That’s not what we want happening.

      Let me know how it goes.

      Reply
  14. Hi Brandon,

    I’m 27 and have worked at my mom’s shop my entire life. I never loved the work, and my mom and I regularly butt heads. Lately it seems like this has increased. Not only in business related matters, but in personality issues including communication.
    I’ve toyed with the idea of leaving for several years, but I know there are many benefits to owning your own business and being your own boss as I’ve experienced them! I only agreed to continue in the business because it was easy and I had been properly trained for it. But the way she confronts issues makes me feel incompetent and I feel pressure from her and our customers to be perfect. This gives me incredible anxiety.
    The business is very niche. It’s a sewing business, so I don’t feel like I have any skills to thrive in any field outside of sewing. I don’t love sewing. I went too college for marketing but have 0 experience. So although I have a degree and could get a job in a different field, I would essentially be starting all over and that would push back many personal life goals my husband and I have i.e. Buying a house, having children, etc.
    My mom has invested in the business under the assumption that I will take over eventually as I said I would. I feel like I would be letting her down or taking her and her investments for granted if I just leave now after all she’s put in.

    Reply
    • I’m sorry to hear that Karleen.

      Since you landed on this article it’s obvious you are not happy and you want to quit.

      How do you want to quit? Do you want to sit down and have a chat with your mom or don’t you really know how to go about it?

      Let me know and I’ll do my best to help you out.

      Reply

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