Hedva Yosef, Ph.D

Family business consulting

Family Business - How to handle when your offers are rejected?

You bring up a great idea for the business that you think can promote it, a business idea with good intentions and lots of enthusiasm. For example, selling to a new market/opening another store / hiring another marketing manager, such ideas. Not huge ideas but applicable, those that can help the family business. You offer it to the business owner, who is also your family member, father for example, and unfortunately, the idea is rejected, sometimes accompanied by a cold response.


The response is not always clear to you: "What do I want? Just to offer a thing that improves the business". You think that it is a good opportunity for change, but they, the family, do not see it in the same way.


I'll go a step back to explain something else.


The term "family" is often associated with positive contexts. The family is supposed to be a safe place for a person. The one that will contain whomever we are with all our ideas, suggestions and nonsenses. It is true that disagreements sometimes arise but parents and family members will find ways to solve and slip when it hurts. The family members in a family business is a different story, where we can encounter many situations in which we offer many ideas but those are rejected outright.


More than that ...


What if you also feel that the family even ridicule and disdain to your offer. They do not say it in words but their looks are enough to clarify what they really think about your offer.


It is unpleasant.


Here is an example to illustrate the feeling.


He is already 45 years old and works in the family business, with his siblings and parents. It is known that at the age of 40 to 50 people are looking for economic stability and less desire for life changes. On the other hand, he admits that he feels uncomfortable in the family business. For a long time, every proposal he offers is rejected. They do not belittle what he proposes but reject any proposal he makes. His personal feeling is that they have a united opinion, and only he, the outsider, thinks differently.

On a personal level, this is a very unpleasant experience. When you make a proposal, you actually exhibit your knowledge, thoughts, and desires. But when you encounter a wall of disdain, ridicule or lack of attention, it can damage your image, your self-confidence and raise a question: Do I even know what I am doing?


Suddenly the safe place is undermined; suddenly the family is no longer a safe place.


If it is only one proposal that was rejected verses of many which received, well…it is one thing. But if there is a feeling that everything you offer or say has come across a wall of objections, then that is another story.


Objected to your idea would not usually pass quietly. It would provoke internal anger and resentment. In many cases, it is even perceived as an insult, the feeling that they do not count me and I'm not really important.


For balanced discussion, I would like to raise the perspective of the business owner here.


A family business should make profits, be a profitable business, and the business owner will minimize the risk of loss for achieving it. Research shows that family businesses are risk-averse as risk-taking poses a threat to their families. In other words, they will be happy to invest in confident projects that promise to work. If they recognize an opportunity to make profits, they probably will accept it. But if they disagree with your offer, it is not necessarily due to the personal issue but might be due to economic reasons.


What can you do when you have an excellent offer to offer


1. Business feasibility. Before running with your excellent idea, I would suggest examining its business feasibility. What are the numbers say? If you take the opening of a new store as an example, I would check out at first the location options, rental costs, transfer costs, the advantages of opening a new store, many questions that can be asked by any business owner before financial step. To quantify the proposal to financial details can help in making the right decision. You may even find that this offer is not as worthwhile as you thought at first or worthwhile but very borderline in terms of profit margins.


2.  Timing. I noticed that family members have a tendency to throw business ideas into the air. They may be good ideas, but sometimes on the other side, the business owner does not perceive it as an idea but as another "burden". If the offer is made at a time that is entirely devoted to the family (eg. dinner), people do not always have the attention to listen as they are in their rest time. If you want to be taken seriously, make sure it is offered at the right time.


3. Listen to criticism. For example, you offer according to the rules but refused. Instead of choosing to be offended, I would listen to the remarks, what were the arguments and whether there is anything to reexamine. It is possible that criticism is correct and it must be recalculated. Maybe not to think about everything all over again, but to think a few points differently.


4.  Replace a determination with a question. Is the criticism heard is final or can be replaced in a question. For example, if you offer to open a store, very close to your business, does the negative statement just say "no" to the idea or to the location. Is another location can be accepted? I would not hasten to say that the proposal was rejected, but I would also check what was not said. Another example, the option to open up for marketing abroad was rejected, but was the proposal for marketing in another market in your country is possible?


5. Patience. The idea is excellent but it fell during the period when the business is not available for changes, or, the idea is excellent, but the father is afraid of technological changes and therefore the idea should be introduced to the business more slowly. If you get "no" it does not necessarily mean you have to give up, sometimes it just means waiting for a better time.

Patience is actually the keyword in many business successes, we are surrounded by people who told them no but they did not give up, knew that only the timing was not good but the idea is great. Therefore, there are times when giving up or despair is not an option for you but patience.


Good luck!