A Thriving Family Business + How They Make It WorkMorgan Gertler
A family owned and operated business is nothing new, but a family business managed by two parents and eight and children is pretty unique. Goat Milk Stuff. The business started with making soap, as it is a low barrier (much less difficult than food products) and the whole family could easily be involved in making and selling it. With eight kids, it was really important to get them all working within the business early on.
The kids were homeschooled so that their education could also focus on practical instruction as well, such as how to run a business, life skills, and conflict resolution, for example. Since Goat Milk Stuff is a family business, the long term goal is to have the kids take it over once they are old enough. This meant getting them involved when they were young and allowing them to learn on the job.
Then and Now
Goat Milk Stuff started out as an online business, but in order to get people to your site, they need to know about you. So the family got creative and started going to craft fairs and festivals. This allowed them to get their brand in front of more people and give out samples.
Since the kids knew they wanted to stay in the business and take it over one day, it became clear that it needed to become sustainable and grow to support them. That’s when it turned into a destination business vs. just an online company.
The In’s and Out’s of a Family Business
Family businesses face many of the same challenges as other businesses, but also have a set of unique issues too. For one thing, the parents will need to step down one day and have the business fully run by their children. Parents Jim and PJ decided that they will step down when their youngest turns 18, but until then will work to help grow the business and ensure all the kids feel comfortable with their roles and responsibilities.
Many people ask if they can volunteer and help on the farm, but as a for-profit business, they can’t accept volunteers. So, the family created a kidding experience: people can pay $100 and get to help deliver baby goats, feed them, clean the stalls, and help at the farm during an extra busy time.
Another way that the family markets and does outreach is through Facebook Live videos. This gives their followers a look into the farm, animals, and what goes on behind the scenes. It teaches people what they do and how they do it. Plus, it builds loyalty. PJ told us how she’s learning that younger generations are more price sensitive and tend to follow deals vs. sticking with a brand. So to create more loyalty, the family tries to bond with their customers and followers so they can create a relationship.
…And the Hardest Part is…
PJ told us that one of the hardest parts of the business is hiring and firing. “You have to be able to let go and delegate and still have a way to teach employees how to handle your customers in a way that’s going to meet a standard.” Right now, Milk Goat Stuff has between 10-12 non family employees working for them. Finding employees (outside of her family) who care as much as they do feels impossible. PJ, like many other business owners, feels that no one will ever care to the same extent, since they aren’t as deeply invested. But of course there are always people willing to work hard and learn.
About Goat Milk Stuff
The Jonas family has been raising goats and making goat milk soap since 2005. You can read all about their products, family, and promise to customers here.