starting a small family business

Hi there, my name is Jonah.  I’m in charge of Sales and Marketing for Sayonato. Sayonato started in 2014 as a part-time family business. My dad is based in the US and he scouts for branded bags sold at at thrift shops or factory outlet stores. These bags are delivered to our home here in the Philippines and then sorted by mom; she’s in charge of inventory and pricing. I implement our sales activities while my two siblings assist in graphic design, website development and shipments.

I am proud of how our family collaborates together in keeping the business. Sayonato could not have been a success without each member’s contribution.

There are key lessons I gained throughout our journey which I would like to share on this blog. I hope this helps you as an entrepreneur, especially if you want to start a business and eventually involve your family.

See the business as an opportunity to grow your relationship.

Setting up a family business could start as chaotic since you may not see immediate results. Our first year was rough and there came a point when we wanted to close our shop for not reaching sales targets. I was involved in all areas of the business as the General Manager on top of my day job then.   I considered the shop as my own until running it became a burden.

We pressed to continue because I felt that Sayonato has been creating a positive connection between me and my dad. The business has been a reason for him to communicate with us more often. My mom and my siblings have remarkable talents. So instead of capitalizing on new personnel to give me a hand, I thought they are the best people that could help out.

Starting and keeping a family business may not be for everyone. But if you are already in it, set your mind on the positive growth it could bring. View it more as a bonding activity and a way to know each other better.

Members of the family should not see it as a heavy load. When this happens, be sure to level off expectations and gauge how much each of you can commit to the daily responsibilities required.

Clarify responsibilities.

Things worked out for our family business after each member decided to share talents and resources to get the shop running. Instead of just one person owning the sales target, it became a team effort. We also agreed that the earnings should be used for our family goals.

It is important to have an internal agreement on who holds the call for difficult transactions. For our business, these types of transactions include bulk orders and customer complains. One person should have authority to decide after all opinions on a matter have been laid down.

Respect the insights of more experienced members.

My mom and dad has years of experience in doing traditional business.  My sister’s online shop Three Smitten Kittens has been running a year ahead of Sayonato. Even if I have gained a Marketing Manager title in the corporate world, I have to set aside what I know and be open to listen to them. Their advice in product pricing and dealing with customers is very helpful to me.

Celebrate your successes.

Each milestone deserves a reward. It may be as simple as reaching 1,000 facebook likes, or exceeding monthly sales. All members of the family should know how the business is doing to further motivate them to contribute.

From time to time, it ia good to celebrate over pizza or ice cream without having to talk about business details!

By the way, being able to run a website like this is already a reason to celebrate, don’t you think?  Please comment a shout out on how I could thank my brother Jose for setting this up.

If you have questions or experiences to share, email us at