Woman in yellow dress with businessmen.

Standing out can be difficult when you work in the family business. You’re so busy trying to convince others that you don’t need “special treatment” that you forget how to make the best impact on family and non-family members of the company. Your end goal is to earn respect and become an equal, but it’s also to differentiate yourself so you stand out.

What does your family expect of you? What about your non-family colleagues? Are they the same things? Our business coaches always tell people to deliver more than is expected, but it goes beyond that. We also tell them to deliver something different than what others expect of them. For example, you can surprise non-family employees by showing up early, staying late to get the job done, and rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty when extra hands are needed.

The above may be the exact opposite of what non-family employees expect of you. They may think that because you’re “family,” you’ll show up late, do the minimum work required, and leave the office before everybody else because your job will always be safe.

Surprising Customers Every Day

We recommend surprising customers and colleagues alike. Present yourself in a different manner than how others believe a family employee normally behaves. Always be the first to say “thank you” and hold the door for people. Learn everybody’s names and ask them about their lives, even if they are low-level employees. Show that you care and be sincere in your words and actions. A simple “Hello” or a random act of kindness goes a long way in a family business.

Challenge your superiors, clients and fellow employees alike to re-think their opinion about family employees and do this every day with genuine, unexpected actions. When you catch someone by surprise, you make a bigger impact than if you fit the stereotypical mold of a family employee with a sense of entitlement. When you pleasantly surprise people, you can use this in your favor. You can use it to create a competitive advantage in the family business.

Making Your Own Way in the Family Business 

When you impact people in a good way, it means you start to pave your own path and make your own way in the family business. If you want to be in a leadership role, or if you want to have more responsibility, you must create a competitive advantage in the business but also in your industry. When you’re offering up something different, people are going to talk and they’re going to take notice.

To leverage your competitive advantage in the family business, you need to be equal, if not better than your competitors. If you become an industry leader who is respected in your field, you’ll become invaluable to the family business.

Being different isn’t enough to convince your customers and co-workers that you’re valuable. You need to prove it. You need to add so much value that they turn to you for advice. If your skills are not equivalent to your competitors, develop them. Sharpen your education, knowledge, and talents until you convince those around you that you are in fact different from everyone else.

If you cannot convince your colleagues, customers, and competitors that you’re at least equal, it’s going to be harder to convince them that you’re different. Whether you’re hoping for a promotion or planning on running the family business one day, you want to make yourself equal to those you respect first.

Why Different Translates to Successful 

Differentiating yourself in your industry and from family and non-family employees is a good way to secure success. After all, if you consistently deliver an above-average performance at work, you’re creating a long-term sustainable, competitive advantage.

Anyone can have a handful of strengths compared to their competitors. But in the business world, competitive advantages fall into two major categories: 1) they can be low cost, or 2) they can be different. So, you can be cheap or you can be different. What would you rather people think of you? That you’re low-cost or that you’re different for all the right reasons?

When someone abandons the cheap philosophy, and opts to be different, they are seeking to be distinct in their industry. Ask yourself, “What are the qualities and attributes that are valued in my family business and in my industry?” Once you have the answers, position yourself so you meet both of those needs.

In regards to your attitude toward the family business, be humble and make yourself valuable and indispensable first. You do this by developing your talents, increasing quality communication with all staff, and seeking to improve conditions in the workplace. Remember, the competition won’t quit and you shouldn’t either. You need to be continuously working on yourself if you want to stand out in the family business.

At AdviCoach, we understand the advantages and disadvantages of working in a family business. We also know how to help clients differentiate themselves so they can add value and maintain their competitive advantage. To learn more about how a business coach can help you attain your short- and long-term goals in the family business, contact us today.