Question—My three children have worked in our business and want to continue.  I want to give them some training for their jobs.  Which school courses should they take?

Answer—That is a tough question because you do not tell me what they do in your business or what your business does.  But a general answer is the three areas of knowledge that business is built on: Finance, marketing, and sales.

But a more important place to begin is with you.  Where did you get your business knowledge?

Did you found the business, or did you inherit it?

No matter how your business began, you have been operating it for some time, and it is your knowledge that you have passed on to your children.  If they just go take courses, that new knowledge may be confusing for them as that new teacher does not know what you know.

What they have learned from you

Is more important than what they

Will learn in any school

You have been their teacher for as long as they have been in your business.  So, let us start with you and what you know and have taught them.  Do you emphasize honesty in dealing with your customers?

Honesty and full disclosure

About what you sell is more important than the actual product itself.  Family businesses usually succeed because you know your customers. They are your neighbors and should know them well. They know you but if they are someone new to you, you must get to know their needs and why they have their needs.

Knowing customer needs is the most important knowledge

Your children must have

Have you taught them to be a good neighbor?  If you have, what else have you taught them?  Instead of guessing, ask all of them together what they remember learning from you.  You will be surprised.  Spend some time learning from them what you do not remember teaching them.  Now you know what they should learn.  Are finance, marketing, and sales issues among what they need?  But what do they want?

Have Questions?

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Make a note of what they want

Can you teach them yourself?

The answer to that question is the answer to your question.  Teach them what you can.  Especially give them an answer to the question of what they have to know to grow your business. Periodically ask them to tell you what they have learned about what they want to learn.

If they get to the point of wanting to learn

What you cannot teach them

Now, they will be prepared to learn because they know what they want to learn, and they will be better scholars than the students who do not know what they want and need to learn.  And please do not

Send them all away

To a school that will teach them

Out of books.

They know their neighbors and they will learn better from a coach or other advisors that visits your family and will listen and respond to your learning needs.

Have you learned now that your business is the best school for learning there is?  No school can equal it for the breadth and depth of learning that can happen there.