Bella Hepner learned the ins and outs of working in a cafe from her father long before he opened his own boutique in The Villages.
Before opening The Standard Coffee Lounge and Christian Library, Matt Hepner bought a small espresso machine. He used it to teach Bella, 16, and her brother, Aden, 14, how to make a variety of drinks.
“He was always making me practice latte art or teaching me about the different origins of coffee or the flavors you can find in different places,” Bella said.
When Matt and his wife opened The Standard in 2020, Bella and Aden were well prepared to work alongside them at locations in Spanish Plains Plaza and the Center for Advanced Healthcare in Brownwood.
In 2018, there were about 28.8 million small businesses in the country, and 19% of those businesses were family-owned, according to SCORE, a national organization of volunteers and business mentors dedicated to helping small businesses grow. grow.
Many family businesses in the community are run by fathers with the help of their children. It’s an opportunity for both to learn, grow and bond.
“It’s actually a lot of fun because you get out of the whole parent-child thing, and it’s more about work,” Matt said. “You see them more in a work environment, where they act like they would act with a boss as opposed to how they would act with their dad.”
learn from each other
Bella learned a lot working with her father. Aden also started working at the store earlier this year and quickly understood what needed to be done.
Watching their growth is Matt’s favorite part.
“Seeing them deal with upset customers, seeing them dealing with happy customers, seeing them dealing with sad customers – just seeing them figure out how to act in a given situation was the (most fun) thing,” Matt said.
Bella saw what it takes to start a business and how to approach the service industry by watching her parents prepare to open The Standard.
“I would say it’s a big process, opening a business, and it’s something that takes a lot of consideration and a lot of planning,” she said. “That hard work is really paying off because if my parents hadn’t… dug into so much information, I don’t think we would have been so successful.”
Learning these skills early while working alongside parents is beneficial for children, said Neil Venketramen, a marriage and family therapist at Northwestern University’s Family Institute.
“I think working with a corporate parent can really help foster and develop more growth, more self-actualization,” Venketramen said. “It really helps psychologically for all of that, and it’s a great trait to work in a family business.”
Bryce Kelly Sr., owner of McAlister’s Deli in Brownwood and the Flying Biscuit Cafe in Lake Sumter Landing, said he and his son have learned a lot from each other.
When Kelly Sr. brought his son over to help with McAlister’s Deli, a lot of ideas came with him.
Bryce Kelly Jr. found new ways to hire people. And since the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s thought of creative ways to manage the pay structure and retain employees, Kelly Sr. said.
And since starting to work with his dad, Kelly Jr. has learned how to run a restaurant.
“I had to learn all of this from scratch,” Kelly Jr. said. “He was with me step by step every day until I became general manager. , making sure my costs were in line and there was no mismanagement in the store. It’s a huge task, and he helped me get there quickly.”
Bring families together
Mike Hackett named Kylie’s Closet Jewelry Boutique after his daughter.
The store opened in Brownwood when Kylie was 7 years old.
“Even when she was just a little thing, she was helping in other ways,” Mike said.
She pressed buttons on cash registers and autographed customers’ bags.
Now 13, Kylie helps out by fixing jewelry displays and working at the cash register.
“I love entrepreneurship,” Kylie said. “I like the way a business is run.”
And Mike loved having his daughter in the store.
“A lot of what we do at the store is supporting family, so to see my most important family member contributing is really cool,” he said.
Mark Hinch and his daughter, Jessica Smith, had never worked side by side before. But ever since Hinch opened Willie Jewell’s Old School Bar-BQ in Magnolia Plaza with his wife, the father-daughter pair have grown closer.
Jessica and her husband, David, run the restaurant, and Hinch helps in any way he can.
“They run the store in day-to-day operations, so when they ask me if I want to come in and provide support, I’m working for them,” Hinch said.
They communicate regularly. And if there is a problem, Jessica will often ask her father for advice.
“We do the work together,” she said.
This communication is essential.
“What really works is everyone in the family system understands and (is) on board the decision-making process,” Venketramen said.
Working together has also benefited Kelly Sr. and her son’s relationship.
“It has a lot to do with his values and his work ethic, as well as his abilities and his potential,” Kelly Sr. said. “I know I can trust him and count on him.”
They’ve worked together at McAlister’s Deli since 2016, and when the Flying Biscuit opened in 2019, Kelly Jr. helped set it up and keep it running.
“Once in a while we have our days, but that’s okay. Who doesn’t?” says Kelly Sr.
Running a family business
A good grounding between parent and child is important before working together, Venketramen said.
“If there are strong family values, ethics, and relationships from the beginning of the relationship, it definitely helps (and) kind of fosters that relationship when kids work with their parents,” he said. “If you don’t learn those values and those ethics and all of that early on…I don’t necessarily see that as a very successful working relationship.”
Having a clear understanding of what a business relationship is versus a personal relationship also helps a family business work, he said.
Kelly Sr. and Kelly Jr. are careful to keep their personal and professional lives separate.
“We just try hard not to talk about business when we’re at home,” Kelly Jr. said. “When we’re on vacation, we don’t talk about this place at all.”
Venketramen said working together can improve generations of relationships within families.
“I think, more than anything, it’s a gift that parents can work with their children in this setting,” he said. “I don’t think there is a better and stronger bonding tool for maintaining family heritage and history than parents having successful relationships with their children personally and in business.”