In this post: We’ll discuss the pros and cons for hiring your own kids in business. How I did it and things I wish I’d do better at (and things that worked out great).
Somehow my blog went from my favorite hobby to my favorite business. Sort of all in one fail swoop. One month I was making a hundred and then I blinked and was turning this into my full-time income. I couldn’t believe how it happened but I started to mull over hiring a VA to help me out. Then I saw that I had a 16 year old boy who was interested in computers, graphic design and I could really be a stepping stone into him having his own dream job.
But, he’s flaky. There, I said it. He wouldn’t be my dream employee, if I was visualizing one. Also, he’s a 16 year old boy. We just don’t get along well all the time. We’re a lot alike and while I have really turned around my ability to let balls drop, he’s juggling and then seeing something shiny and leaving balls all over the place some days. #squirrel
He’s also amazingly smart. I knew that the learning curve would be steep, but he has an eye for design, color and what will grab people’s attention. He can be a really hard worker and he LOVES working on the computer.
Could I turn those skills into something amazing where I could funnel my business’s money into our family vs another person’s family.
So, I hired him.
And I fired him, and I hired him back.
It’s been a bit of a rough road, but we’re to the point that I think we’ve figured it out.
Here’s 10 tips for hiring your own kids in business:
- Plan to train. He wasn’t born knowing how to use photoshop. Even if he pretends that he is. I needed to allow myself some time to train him how to do things like I like. It took about 12 times of me saying that my watermark is only in Century Gothic, but I think he’s getting it.
- I was the teacher, he was the student. I needed to make it very clear that in the beginning I was the “sensei”. He was learning from me. I had a proven track record of having an ability to create eye-catching pins. He did not. I had taken classes and was willing to teach him, but I was the owner, the teacher and the instructor and him trying to show me how to do things faster, cleaner, stronger just wasn’t OK at this point. After he learned I’d be happy to learn from him, but in the beginning, I was training him.
- I was the boss. I tried to make it really clear that I was running a successful business that would be on his resume. It would look a lot better than me working for the Malte Shoppe at his age (for heaven’s sake, I made the Huffington Post!). He would come out of it as a sucessful digital designer and would be able to take those skills to another company. But, in order for that to happen I needed to be treated like his boss (when we were doing a work project). I did open up the books and show him how his pins could really make a difference in the bottom line of the business (which, in all reality he also benefits as it is our family’s income). I was also really careful to make sure this only stayed this way at work, not the rest of the day.
- Plan for failures. We had a rough start. He made a horrible looking graphic and say that was as good as he could do. I’d just say I wasn’t paying for that pin and design my own. It was a lesson that I wasn’t going to clap for every little thing he designed, I wanted quality work and that was all that I was going to pay for. And I was still his mom who’d clap for other things. 🙂
- Pay per project. I pay per pin (I pay him 5 bucks/pin, which – in the begining was probably 5 bucks/hour, but it’s slowly heading into 10 bucks/hour).
- Keep a spreadsheet. One of the things that is best about him working for me is that he can fit it in whenever he has time. Unlike the local pizza shop I’m cool with him being crazy busy with band right now. I keep a spreadsheet of stuff I want done, and he just works on it as he can.
- Use team viewer. It’s easy for me to see stuff that he’s working on, and even adjust it from my own computer.
- Set him up for success. He has photshop on his computer, I also use a program called Stencil (which I bought through App Sumo) that he sometimes uses. He can also use those things for his own purposes when not working for me. Any time he’s working on design it can be a benfit to me in the long run.
- Pay him. Initially I paid him every pin. He has his own bank account so I can quickly transfer in the 5 bucks each time. I now just pay him at the end of the week. But, intially I really wanted him to see the instant fruit of his labors. **At this point I don’t have him on payroll, but I think I will start next year. This year it’s been pretty small — but I do see his work with me increaseing and it would be smart to use that as a write-off**
- Show him his winnings. When he designs a pin that goes crazy I’m thrilled to show him how that’s helping me. He’s thrilled to know he had a part and that people are actually attracted to his work. It’s exciting for both of us!
But, like I said we’ve had a few rough bumps. Sometimes he doesn’t want to design when I could really use it. I have just decided to swallow my pride and do the stuff myself. In reality he’s not taking giant loads of work off my plate (the majority of the time). But, he’s learning skills and I am able to pay him when he works (and freeing up my time to do other things). I think the system will fine tune into something that really works well for both of us!
So, have you hired your own child in your family business? What would you change or work on? Any failures or sucesses to share?
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