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By Jacqueline Tabbah, International Stoneworks, Inc.

There is a fine line between respecting your family’s business that they’ve built from the ground up and being an innovator. This line can often times feel like a tightrope, but once you make it to the other side, you will achieve a rewarding and meaningful career.

Your first experience working in your family business, you walk in and there is a system in place and this is in place for year and you are told system has been working for years. My advice is to embrace this system at first; by trying things their way in order for you to earn and build trust. Trust is an essential component in any relationship, not just in your personal life but even more so in a family business. By building trust, you will also learn more about the business and over time, you can slowly tweak the areas where you think there is room for improvement.

You also earn trust by respecting your family and the system that has worked for them successfully. It sounds simple, but it is so important to treat them the way you want to be treated and acknowledging your differences in how you may approach business. You want to be taken seriously and your family members do too.

Demonstrate proficiency at all times during office hours, you must communicate in a professional manner in the presence of employees and customers. The workplace is not the venue to make family jokes or have a heated discussion, instead set aside differences and work together respectfully. When families trust and respect each other, your employees will follow suit because they will see that you are taking your family business seriously.

After these fundamental concepts are established, you can start introducing your innovative ideas. My advice is to start with baby steps. Upgrade your social media game; it costs nothing and can really increase the company’s web presence. You can even reorganize your filing system by simply creating a shared drive or cloud-based system that everyone has access to at all times.

You may want to get involved in numerous local and national groups such as The Natural Stone Institute (MIA+BSI), World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) to name a few. Most of the national groups have local chapters – start locally, your business is local and people do business within their community.

Lastly, think outside the box. Successful family businesses thrive over generations because every person brings something new to the table. Each generation must adapt to fit the times. Learn everything you can from your fathers and mothers and build on that.

At the end of the day, we all have the same goal, to be a loving family and to work together successfully. Learn more about working in a family business and ask your own questions at The International Surface Event (TISE 2017), WE03 – Managing a Successful Family Business Forum on Wednesday, January 18 at 8:00am to 9:30am. I hope to see you there. Register today!

About the Author: Jacqueline Tabbah was born in Houston, Texas. She graduated with honors from Duchesne Academy in 2004 and attended college at Loyola University New Orleans. Whilst in college, she began her career with ExxonMobil interning in their Community Summer Jobs Program. This in turn led her to work with the Salvation Army marketing department. After graduating cum laude with a BA from Loyola in 2008, Jacqueline returned to Houston and began work at a boutique public relations firm. She joined her family’s business, International Stoneworks, in 2009. Since then she has been learning about stone and tile restoration, maintenance, and products. Jacqueline focuses on working with residential and commercial clients to restore their stone surfaces. Additionally, she supervises every facet of International Stoneworks’ marketing and public relations. What to keep up with she and her business? Then be sure to follow twitter: @IntlStoneworks!