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Discussing Family Business Goals in MBA Essays

November 26, 2018 :: Jacob Allison

Family Business | Admissionado

Many MBA applicants we work with have either worked in, or plan to return to a family business after graduation or in the long-term.

Talking about your past work with your family’s business or your plans for working for a family business in the future in your MBA admissions essays can be tricky, and there are a few things to keep in mind in order to make your past experiences and post-graduation family business plans appear ambitious and worth investing in.

The AdComs Aren’t Psychic

An important thing to keep in mind for any applicant is to avoid using industry-specific jargon when describing past experiences and successes. This is even more important for applicants whose past work experience was in a family business. You will probably have very intimate knowledge of your industry, your family business’s place within that industry, and will be naturally embedded in the company’s culture. That means you need to be even more careful to not omit details that might help provide the adcoms with context about why your work in the business has been impressive, and why your family’s business is worth further investment in the future.

A good strategy to use is to imagine that the adcoms have never even heard of your family business’s industry.

Your mission is to introduce:

  • What your family’s business does
  • Why it’s important within its industry and how it specifically impacts its customers
  • What its operations look like and why it’s successful in easy-to-understand language


  • Using industry-specific terminology
  • Referencing any proprietary tools, machinery, or software you use in your work by name. Instead, simply explain what that tool, machinery, or software does
  • Assuming that the adcom knows anything about your industry

Why Are You Passionate About This Work?

We know that different cultures view family ties and obligations differently, but if you’re applying to a Western, and especially an American MBA program, you have to keep Western notions and norms in mind when writing your essays. While your culture may view returning to work for your family’s business as a noble endeavour, some Western adcoms may wonder if it is simply an easier route for you, and why you aren’t venturing out into the wider private sector business world. To convince adcoms that this isn’t the case, you must prove your PASSION for your family’s business.

For example, if your family’s business is a food packaging factory in Saudi Arabia, we need to know why you’re passionate about food packaging. Does your family’s food packaging help rural date farmers in your country safely bring their product to market? Have you visited one of these farms and seen how important your family’s work is to their livelihood? If you can tell that convincing personal story, the adcoms will believe that working for your family’s business isn’t just the easy road for you, but it’s a mission you believe in.

Why Your Family’s Business Over Others?

Keeping Western adcoms in mind, it’s also important to show adcoms that your plans for expanding or growing your family’s business are also based in sound business reasoning. Let’s stick with the Saudi food packaging company example. It might be compelling to explain to adcoms that you want to use the networking skills you’ll gain through your MBA experience to help your family’s business take advantage of the many government grants and funding opportunities that are a part of the country’s efforts to diversify away from oil industry dependency. You plan on using your new networking skills to attend regional agriculture conferences, meeting rural farmers from across the region and expanding your family business’s scope, profitability, and impact.

Overall, the important things to focus on when writing about your experiences and plans in regards to your family’s business are very similar to what every applicant should be writing about. If you focus on passion, impact, and your well-researched plans for success, then you’ll be on the right track to convincing the adcoms that you’re the person they want in their MBA program.


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