When I read the headlines, “P. Diddy buys $360,000 car for son’s 16th birthday,” I could not help but think, “What a way to mess up a kid, but I guess it’s none of my business.”
But if applied in the world of family businesses, I would have thought, “Well, there goes that business.”
After all, a sense of entitlement in a child may be the No. 1 killer of a family business.
Entitlement is really an attitude or behavior that you are deserving of respect and privilege beyond your skills, knowledge and experience. We have all met these kinds of people along the course of our lives. Most times we avoid them if we can, and if not, we simply go along for the ride. Wouldn’t we all like to drive P. Diddy’s son’s car?
But believing you have the skills to run a business when you don’t, or thinking you can run the business just because your dad did, are guaranteed ways to drive your family business into the ground. Your customers do not care what your name is or how much money you have. They want the best product and service for the best price. And if you can do this profitably, then you win.
Entitled family business members also tend to be poor listeners. One business owner’s son with a company out West decided to bring all production in-house contrary to the advice of both the production manager and the CFO. This resulted in slightly higher quality, but there was not enough volume to cover the increased debt. Today they are out of business.
Here are some pieces of advice to guard against entitlement:
Raising a child with the appropriate balance of confidence and humbleness is certainly a challenge. So next time you are faced with a decision on this, just ask yourself, “What would P. Diddy do?” And then do the opposite.