DEAR HARRIETTE: I graduated from college a few years ago, and I haven’t figured out what to do with my life. I have dreams, but nothing has worked out yet. My parents want me to join the family business, but I’m not really interested in it. I recognize it would be a tremendous head start in that field. I would get a lot more accomplished in a shorter amount of time because they’ve already paved the way and made all of the connections. I’m thinking about doing that for a little while and then hiring people to run it; after that, I'll spin off to do what I really want to do. What do you think about my plan? -- Next Steps
DEAR NEXT STEPS: It sounds like your parents are throwing you a lifeline. You should seriously consider taking it, but you must keep in mind that you have to take it seriously. They have worked hard to build a business. If you go into it, you have to be fully devoted to getting it to the next level. It cannot be just a stopgap until you figure out what’s next.
It’s OK to not stay in the business forever. In order to do so, though, you should figure out a strategic plan that sets the business on course for prolonged success, where you identify leaders to take over when the time is right. You must keep your parents informed along the way. They should know your intentions before you take over. If they are willing to support your plan, then you can go in with honesty and integrity. But you must give your all to the family business while you are in it.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)