I never considered that we were starting a Mom & Pop business when we started our trial consulting business, Magnus, in 1993. In fact, originally there were to be 3 partners, but the 3rd dropped out early – he wasn’t cut out to be an entrepreneur. Family run business structures are probably one of the oldest forms of business, the other being a sole proprietorship and I’ve done that also. Family run businesses run the gamut from small retail shops to huge businesses like Walmart. (The latest Mom & Pop phenomenon is Duck Dynasty/Duck Commander. (Of course, that is Mom & Pop & sons, now Brothers, Uncles, and friends.) I have friends with Mom & Pop/family businesses in various industries including law practices, air conditioning services, and medical/dental businesses. Mom & Pop businesses form one of the strongest segments of small businesses employing large numbers of people; the connotation as Mom & Pop doesn’t mean there aren’t people working for them! They should never be thought of as a negative thing – in fact, in such businesses the owners are dedicated to providing client or customer service in ways that non business owners would never be. As a career choice, one must be consider the work – life implications and decide if it is right for the individual as we have written in other blogs. But when it works, it is a strong business model.
I, too, never considered owning and operating a “Mom and Pop” business, but after 20 years as a small business owner, I guess I will have to accept my career choice. Before co-owning a Mom and Pop business, I was employed by various others for 20 years; some of these businesses were large corporations, others were medium sized companies (including one, with way too many Ph.D. types, who often do not play well with others!), and others were small, family owned businesses. There is no perfect business model, based on my 40 years of working, and what works for some people and their companies doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, but I prefer the Mom and Pop business model to the others in which I have been employed. I enjoy the flexibility of doing exactly what I want to do, working for exactly the clients for whom I want to work, employing only employees whom I want to employ, and avoiding all of the cliques, factions, staff meetings, and pomp and circumstance of working for someone else, or working for a large company. I greatly resent it when people imply that, because my spouse and I own and operate a small business, we must not work hard or we must go to the beach during work hours; this could not be further from the truth! Small businesses, such as the one I co-own, employ many people in our country and without people like my partner and me, our economy would be in worse shape than it is. I am proud of what I do and I plan to keep on doing it!