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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 31, 2011
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    24

    Default Expectations for Family Business. Does This Equal Slave Labor?

    My mother started a business a few years ago and it has grown immensely over the last year. Now, this was something she started after I moved out on my own and it's something I have zero skill or interest in. I have not ever, nor do I have any desire to work for or inherit this business.

    Well, since the business has grown, she really can't handle the volume on her own. My father has tried to help by networking with local groups that have special needs adults who can do manual labor tasks - like stuffing bags and folding brochures. My mother refuses to hire anyone saying she doesn't want to lose control of the quality of her product. At the same time, she's telling me and other friends/family members that we have to come over and help her fill these orders.

    Now, I don't have much free time. I just don't. I work full time, I go to school full time and I work a second part time job. I have my own tight schedule and struggle to stay on top of crap that I need to get done for myself. It's frustrating because while this is going on, she's taking 5 day camping trips and leaving everything to pile up. She just got a HUGE order that I know she's not going to be able to fill in time and I told her that if it were me, I'd postpone my trip because to fail on this order would be a huge blow to the company's reputation. Well, she just got back today and had a complete blow up at me because I have plans tonight and am not going to be around to help her and do what she's asked me to do. I told her I would help some, but it had to be when I have time and today I just don't. I could have helped this weekend, but she left town. And we can't work if she's not there to supervise.

    I kind of want to tell her to go jump off a bridge at this point. This isn't my business. I'm not getting paid to help. And I'm just expected to drop everything to keep her head above water. I can't do it and I have enough on my plate without struggling to add this in. Her attitude is that as her mother, I have to do it for the sheer fact that she gave birth to me and raised me. I think that's just asinine. How do I get myself out of this mess?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 7, 2005
    Location
    Lancaster, PA
    Posts
    4,775

    Default

    She has four options:

    1) Don't grow the business/accept more clients than she can handle

    2) Accept the fact that she will have to hire some staff and give up some direct control

    3) Stop going on trips, etc and focus all her time and energy on the business

    4) Eventually fail

    There's no reason why you should have to work for her (for free?) at a business she decided to start on her own. Especially if it's something you have no interest in.

    Many small businesses fail for lack of a well thought out business plan, and it sounds like this one will be headed that way if she doesn't change some things.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug. 8, 2001
    Location
    up the hill from the little river (that floods alarmingly often)
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    3,607

    Default

    This is your mom's mess, not yours. And you are wise to keep it that way. Good for her that her business is growing, but now she needs to learn how to manage that growth wisely, and that does not mean taking advantage of family and friends.

    You have plans: you are studying for school or working one of your paying jobs (emphasis on "paying"). You don't have time to volunteer for her business. Period.

    I think if you put your foot down and keep it there, she will eventually get that you are not her slave labor and stop asking. But things might get rather ugly in the meantime.
    Full-time bargain hunter.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2005
    Location
    SF Bay Area
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    2,641

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HalteredFaultered View Post

    I kind of want to tell her to go jump off a bridge at this point.
    Sounds good to me

    Seriously, aside from the fact that you are entitled to your own, very busy life, your mom needs to learn to manage - and pay - other workers to deal with her growing business. I think the suggestion to investigate special needs workers is excellent - it sounds like the kind of work they might take pride in doing well. Bailing her out as you have occasionally done doesn't help either one of you.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 22, 2003
    Posts
    1,735

    Default

    Your mother needs to understand she is successful (this is good) but in order to grow and maintain that success, she needs to accept she has to either 1) scale back or 2) hire staff. That you are her daughter, and you love her and wish her all the best, but this is HER business, HER life and while you can help from TIME TO TIME, that time is VERY limited.

    You MUST set this boundry. You MUST stick with it. You MUST accept the blow ups. You must go tough love. Why? Because this is about your mother growing as a business woman. You won't do her ANY favors if you don't push her out of the nest, so to speak.

    You MUST SAY NO and STAND BY IT. You will NOT do your mom any favors if you don't. Sort of like when you were a kid and begged not to go to school but she made you anyway? Yep.
    "The nice thing about memories is the good ones are stronger and linger longer than the bad and we sure have some incredibly good memories." - EverythingButWings



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    40,163

    Default

    Some people have problems with boundaries.
    Some are parents, some are offspring, some just family, some friends, some employers.
    Your mother seems to be one of those people.

    You will have to make the rules you want to live by and enforce them.
    That is the sanest way to handle those people.
    Their demands never end until you blow up.
    Then it is all your fault, first for not doing what they want and inconveniencing them, then for blowing up about it.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec. 31, 2011
    Posts
    24

    Default

    She actually gave me a hard time today about taking time out to go ride my mare. Um, I'm paying a boatload of money to keep my mare at a training barn and would like to get some return on that investment. So, riding is an important part of my schedule that I am unwilling to negotiate. Especially when we have an event coming up at the end of the month.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
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    8,216

    Default

    You are in no way obligated to help your mother with her business. She started it, she wants to run it solo, and she went on vacation. If she wants to do it all by herself, then she should have stayed home to send the order out. It would be different if you were a partner, or ever offered to help, or would inherit the business, but you aren't in any way obligated to do a job for nothing that she volunteered for.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  9. #9
    Join Date
    May. 12, 2000
    Location
    NE TN, USA
    Posts
    6,201

    Default

    Been there, done that, had the ulcers to prove it. Owning a business is a 24/7/365 proposition. It ain't easy.

    She either needs to downsize her client list to where she can do it herself, or hire someone to help her.
    “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
    John Adams



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 12, 2007
    Location
    Westchester County, NY
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    5,748

    Default

    She clearly has issues with boundaries and doesn't know how to run a business.

    I would put my foot down and tell her that you will not be helping anymore. No reasons, no explanations, etc. for her to argue with. Just say no.

    Tell her that if she is interested in taking a small business management class you will help her find one (lots of community colleges offer 1-day courses on running a successful business).



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 20, 2010
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    All 'round Canadia
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HalteredFaultered View Post
    My mother refuses to hire anyone saying she doesn't want to lose control of the quality of her product. At the same time, she's telling me and other friends/family members that we have to come over and help her fill these orders.
    That's total BS - after all, when her family and friends are helping she has as much ~control of the quality of her product~ as she'd have with hired staff. She's not doing it on her own either.

    But she's getting it done for free. It sounds like she's either too cheap to hire someone and train them up to her standard, or not forward-looking enough to realize that if the business keeps expanding she'll have to do that anyways. Possibly both.



  12. #12
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    Sep. 5, 2011
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    2,966

    Default

    Wasn't it someone here on COTH who coined the most-excellent phrase: "No" is a complete sentence."?



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov. 20, 2010
    Location
    Upstate New York
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    4,177

    Default

    Guess it might also depend on whether or not there was any significant financial support your way, to get you where you are now? Nevertheless, as an adult with a full and a half work, and a full school schedule, I'd think she'd find some way to ask for any favor that would work around your schedule and availability.

    Sounds as if you are all industrious and hard workers. And perhaps pretty strong willed. Try to come up with a definitive statement - perhaps showing how little time you have - how much work time you put in, school time, and horse training time (Mom, it's not just for enjoyment, but accomplishment, as you so well taught me!) and how unreasonable it is for her to insist on your full time, unpaid involvement. She is still your mother, and in this case, I'd try to do this politely, but firmly.

    I'm starting my own company, and have offered my son a chance to help set up my web site. A good way to get some funds for equipment he wants, and I can write it off. And he's just a year out of college.

    Good luck.
    Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    10,323



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2004
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    Whidbey Is, Wash.
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    9,655

    Default

    Have you explained this to her? IE "Mom, are you going on a trip, didn't you just tell me a big order come in?" What is her response?
    Aisha, my heart from 03/06/1986 to 08/22/2008.

    COTH's official mini-donk enabler.
    Odie, aka the Evil Burrito, is on Facebook.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul. 15, 2006
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    815

    Default

    You should be getting paid. My family owned a flower nursery/christmas tree farm/florist business throughout my childhood. While we were expected to help out with certain tasks, we were paid for special projects from about age 10. Earlier if it was something like picking up pinecones for use in christmas wreaths etc. We recieved $.01 per pinecone (30 yrs ago )
    We also often hired local teens for some of the heavier labor. She needs to hire someone, she needs to get some business councling. www.sba.gov might be a good resource to her.

    I wish you good luck, family issues like this are never easy



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep. 19, 2008
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    Half past the point of oblivion
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    924

    Default

    I would do this. Say "Mom, I am glad your business is expanding and I want you to be successful. You really need to hire someone to help you. In the short term, however, I can help out 4-5 hours a week. These are the ONLY hours I am available."

    I say this only because she may be in that in-between stage where having an employee isn't *quite* feasible and if she gets just a little bit bigger it will work. If that's not the situation or if this continues for a long period of time, then just stop. Or insist on being paid a fair wage
    Holy crap, how does Darwin keep missing you? ~Lauruffian



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2005
    Location
    SF Bay Area
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    2,641

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by axl View Post
    I would do this. Say "Mom, I am glad your business is expanding and I want you to be successful. You really need to hire someone to help you. In the short term, however, I can help out 4-5 hours a week. These are the ONLY hours I am available."

    I say this only because she may be in that in-between stage where having an employee isn't *quite* feasible and if she gets just a little bit bigger it will work. If that's not the situation or if this continues for a long period of time, then just stop. Or insist on being paid a fair wage
    It doesn't sound as if the OP has an extra 4-5 hours to spare.. full time job, extra part time job, full time school and a horse. I don't get the feeling that being paid would make much difference in the equation. If production time was so challenging, why did mom take off on vacation - and then expect DD to deal with a crisis she herself created?



  19. #19
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    Aug. 2, 2004
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    Whidbey Is, Wash.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RainyDayRide View Post
    why did mom take off on vacation - and then expect DD to deal with a crisis she herself created?
    Because mom sounds like a user.
    Aisha, my heart from 03/06/1986 to 08/22/2008.

    COTH's official mini-donk enabler.
    Odie, aka the Evil Burrito, is on Facebook.



  20. #20
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    Sep. 5, 2011
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    2,966

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TheJenners View Post
    Because mom sounds like a user.
    Ditto.

    Blood "may" be thicker than water, but bearing & raising a child does NOT give mom the right to consider said child her own personal chattel to order around &/or guilt-trip into assisting her with her own personal projects.

    OP is a grownup; the strings have been cut. Mom is definitely taking advantage, & is definitely a manipulator. Perhaps this is why her business has been so successful? One has to wonder how successful her business would be if she didn't have so much forced help.



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