There is one big advantage 23-year-old Clint Morrison has found joining his family's business fresh upon graduating from Rider University: he has a job, while most of his friends do not."They're all still sort of scrambling," Morrison says. The Morrison family business, Benefit Design Specialists Inc, administers employee benefit plans for small businesses and is based in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Dad Tim employs not only his youngest son, Clint, but also two older sons, ages 27 and 29, as well as his own sister, a sister-in-law, a cousin and about 10 other non-related employees. The key to a harmonious office with so many family members? "You have to find a spot for them to be productive or they won't make it in the family business," the patriarch says. Here are some tips on joining the workforce - with your relatives, according to family business this site ELSEWHERE There is no official tally of how many "& Sons" or "& Daughters" are among the 28 million small businesses in the United States, according to the Small Business Association. Yet one of Clint Morrison's business professors advised him not to start in the family business. The advice: go elsewhere and garner some knowledge of the industry first. Given the state of the job market and his family's specialty niche, Morrison decided that was not feasible.
The strategy worked well for Laura Salpeter, who got a law degree and then worked for a few years at a law firm before joining her father Scott Salpeter's Miami-based investment banking firm. Also working there, after a few years of getting experience with other companies, is Philip Cassel, son of Scott Salpeter's partner. Both offspring are now 30."Working with my father was something I've always contemplated. So I dived into the business world and found out more about what it is," said Cassel. WORK YOUR WAY UP Even if you spent your childhood playing in the family factory, that does not mean you are going to walk into a corner office once you get your diploma.
Robert Spielman, a partner in the tax and business services unit at Marcum LLP, advises clients that it is their job to make sure their kids are exposed to all aspects of the business, especially if they expect to hand it over to them one day. For example, one of his clients, a fish distributor, hired several family members for its sales force. "But none learned how to manage the business, and eventually, they had financial troubles," Spielman said. The best way is to start at the bottom and experience all areas of the enterprise. If the family business is a trucking company, start out in maintenance, then drive for six months, go into sales and then assist in the financing side before managing the fleet and employees, Spielman says.
MANAGE EXPECTATIONS The family business dream - that someday, all of this will be yours - can be a great motivator, but it can also instill an unwieldy sense of entitlement. This happened to one family business owner client of Steve Faulkner, head of private business advisory for J. P. Morgan Private Bank's Advice Lab. The son was lording his status over his coworkers and superiors, saying "Someday, I'm going to own all of this, and fire everyone I don't like."When the son's manager finally had the courage to tattle to the boss, he fired his own son. However, two months later, when the son could not find another job, the boss asked another manager to hire him back."That's a horrible succession plan," said Faulkner. It is better, he says, for business owners to get their relatives to work harder than they ever have to be worthy to take over the reins. Another of Faulkner's clients does exactly this, down to a formalized training program for the fourth generation that is now joining the business. Newcomers spend up to six years training at international subsidiaries before being brought back to headquarters for management jobs. The process drills respect into the employees, something Laura Salpeter says she has learned on the job. Her top advice for those joining the family business? Understand you are working for your parent, not with your parent.
If you have never experienced a migraine, consider yourself blessed by a thousand angels. Sarah Hackley wishes she could say that. The Austin-based writer and editor suffers from headaches so severe, "it feels like someone is jamming an ice pick into my temple while dropping an anvil on my head."Nowadays, she gets attacks at least twice a week, sometimes daily. But twice in her life time, the 31-year-old mom of two has experienced migraines that lasted for an astonishing two years. Migraines may not exert just physical pain or emotional duress. They could hurt the pocketbook, too, and blow up the most careful financial planning. Hackley quit her job, working part-time from home, and has spent many thousands of dollars visiting specialists around the country. She isn't saving much for retirement."Migraines are a huge deal for your finances, because they influence what you can do," says Hackley, author of "Finding Happiness with Migraines."Saving is already hard for most Americans. Throw in a debilitating condition that can leave you bedridden, wracked by pain, sensitive to light, noise or smells, and unable to work. How will your bank account fare then?"Part of the suffering is that migraines take such a huge hit on people's lives and finances," says Carolyn Bernstein, clinical director of the Comprehensive Headache Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Brookline, Massachusetts."You are unable to go to work, you are using up all your vacation time, and you are prevented from being able to advance in your career," Bernstein says. COSTS TO WALLET, LIFE
These recurring headaches torture a surprising number of people - about 36 million Americans, or 10 percent of the population, according to the New York City-based nonprofit Migraine Research Foundation. Each year, that translates to 113 million lost work days, a cost to employers of $13 billion, and $50 billion in annual healthcare services. Migraines can torpedo finances at multiple stages of your career. They can affect your education, by encouraging sufferers to drop out; your prime earning years, by hampering productivity and promotions; and your golden years, with the pain pushing you into early retirement."When migraines are out of control, they can set people up for a lifetime of underachievement," says Dr. Richard Lipton, vice-chair of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. Part of the challenge is that migraines are mysterious and individual in nature.
Still, there are a few key strategies migraine sufferers can use to minimize the financial hit. DON'T SUFFER IN SILENCE "See a doctor and get treatment right away," advises Lipton. A tailored personal strategy might include taking preventive medication on a daily basis, avoiding triggers that could range from missing meals to getting irregular sleep or drinking alcohol, and having additional medication on hand for when the migraines hit. To control ongoing healthcare costs, consider medical savings accounts. You will be forking out for everything from deductibles to co-pays to out-of-network services, and you should at least be using pretax money to cover all that, saving you on the order of 30 percent.
Bernstein provides this example: If you are on three different medications to control your migraines, each one with a co-pay costing $10 a month, that's $360 for the year. Add in physical therapy 10 times a year, each session with a $25 co-pay, for another $250 annually. Other treatments like acupuncture could prove effective, but might not be covered by your insurance plan. PROTECT YOURSELF If attacks are causing you to be away from work fairly consistently, you may be seen by higher-ups as someone who cannot be counted on, and miss out on plum assignments or promotions. Or worse, be first in the firing line if there are staff cutbacks. As a result, "ask your doctor for a letter to give to your Human Resources department," advises Bernstein. "That way you won't get penalized for having migraines. Once it's documented, you have some degree of protection."As for Sarah Hackley, she is able to work only a few hours a day, or a migraine is triggered, laying her out for a full week. But with the help of doctors and fellow sufferers at online communities like Migraine.com, she can at least manage her money and her migraines."It's an expensive condition, but all the support out there is invaluable," she says. "You can't put a price on that."