The heat has been brutal so far this summer in many parts of the country. Too hot for the kiddos to play outside. In my community, the swimming pools even closed. Many parents told me their children were going stir crazy — anxious to find something to do with their time. bu
Even under normal weather circumstance, the summer months often create challenges for small business owners. How do you balance the conflicting demands of running your business and spending time with your children. Many who are working tirelessly to build their businesses, feel guilty and conflicted over the lack of time they have to spend with their children. So let me ask: Why not let them work with you this summer? You get to spend time with them. The children get valuable experience. And there may be tax advantages as well.
I grew up working in a family business — a funeral home believe it or not. My parents were business partners and they worked seven days a week — often holidays too. To keep me busy, my mother put me to work in the business.
From the time I was five years old, I had “responsibilities” in our family business. The complexity of my work increased as I got older. I evolved from picking up broken off flowers in the chapel after a funeral to helping with some of the bookwork and greeting people at the front door when they arrived. While I can’t say I always enjoyed having to work when my friends were out goofing off, I will admit I learned a lot about managing a business and dealing with the public. Valuable experience I couldn’t have gotten in any other way. And it may be the reason I’ve successfully pursued entrepreneurial interests throughout my adult life.
A recent visit to my favorite nail salon, caused me to reflect on my personal experience working in a family business and it reconfirmed the value of children working in their family business. Mary, a Vietnamese immigrant, is the proprietor of the spa where I go. She has three children — a daughter, Tran, who is working on her masters degree, and is a licensed manicurist, Brian, a 16 year old high school student, and Nathan, a charming 10 year-old. All three have worked with their mother for years. I’ve had the pleasure of watching them grow up.
On a recent visit, however, I was awestruck by how polished and mature Brian has become. I watched as he managed the front reception desk for his mother. I listened to him handle a customer cancellation smoothly, re-booking the client for another day. And he masterfully managed payment transactions while monitoring the flow of customers. If I hadn’t known he was 16, I never would have guessed. The skills he displayed were more like those of an entry-level manager at a large company. He is certain to go far in his career.
If you want to bring your children into your business, make sure you match the type of work you ask them to do with their ability. Young children might sort mail, stuff envelopes or other simple tasks. Older ones can take on more complicated tasks such as answering phones, inputting data or even helping with your online presence or social media strategy.
Finally, by hiring your children you may be eligible for certain tax breaks. However, the work must be of such a nature that you would pay someone else to do it, and it must be real work. In other words, you can’t pay them and have them simply hang around and do nothing. To learn more about tax savings, ask a tax professional or visit the IRS website.
So if you the summer is beginning to wear on your and your children, put them to work. Include them in your business activities. Not only will they enjoy being with you, but you will also be giving them the experience of a life-time. And you might enjoy a tax savings to boot.