- Continue to share your enthusiasm. You never know when a child might decide the family business looks like a promising venture. Chris Carini, for example, broached the subject of joining the family business with his dad, Peter Carini, in October 1996, after a number of years in government and public administration. He knew it was risky, because his elder brothers had joined the Greenwich, Connecticut, energy services company and then left after a few years when they decided the fit was wrong. "But over the years, I had listened to my father talk about all the entrepreneurial things he was doing with Champion Energy Corp., and I got excited and energized by his talk. And then I thought I had something to give the company."
- Give them time. Again, on the "you never know" principle, Debra Strauss says she never would have gone into the business immediately after college. "I wasn't sure this was what I wanted to do," she says, "and as the younger child in the family, I didn't want to be treated as the baby." So she went into financial planning and strategy and earned an MBA before approaching her parents about joining the firm. "I needed to see the contrast, and I did," she says. It was that contrast--a more sane and flexible lifestyle and the opportunity to work for herself and build on a family tradition--that finally brought her into the fold.
Gural, with three children in the business and a fourth contemplating joining it, sums up the reeling-in process this way. "If you allow them to see the satisfaction and pleasure you get from the business, let them put their toes in it gradually, and don't pressure them at any point along the way," he says, "you tend to eliminate the natural resistance they have to a parent who is trying to push them in a particular direction." And who knows? They may even take the baton and run with it.