Assignment: Talk to your family about your business

If you’re part of a family-owned business, we’d love to hear from you. Interview your kids, your parents or any other family member involved in your business.

You can submit your interview here. Make sure to add in contact information like an e-mail address so we can reach you if we have questions. (We won’t publish your personal information, we promise)

Questions to ask

  1. If your parents started the business, why did you get involved? Did you want to do something else originally?
  2. What’s it like to work with your family? Do you argue about how to run your business? Is business life separate from family life?
  3. What has been your biggest struggle?
  4. How do you deal with different family members’ varying ideas for running the business? 
  5. How has the next generation changed your business or the way you will run it in the future?

While you’re at it, taking some pictures! Or make a quick video about your family business. If you’re not a pro at it, we have handy tips.

    Not sure how to get started? We have some tips here.

    Assignment: Interview your favorite family-owned business

    Do you frequent a family owned-business? Stop by and ask them a few questions for us.

    Submit your interview here and remember to add in some contact info so we can reach you if we have questions. (We won’t publish your personal information, we promise)

    Questions to ask:

    1. How did your business start?
    2. How many generations are involved? Will your kids come work for/with you?
    3. What are your goals for your business?
    4. How has the economy affected your business? Are more or fewer family members involved?
    5. What is one thing your business really good at? Why?

    That’s it! Feel free to ask follow up questions if you’re curious. It really helps us if you take photos (or even a quick video) with your interview. There are tips on that here.

    Need some quick journalism 101? We have a few pointers here.

    Assignment: Map your favorite family-owned businesses

    Assignment: Help us map family-owned business in Los Angeles. You can see the map below, and to easily add to it, head here.

    View Family-Owned Businesses in a larger map

    You need a Google account to participate. If you don’t have one, click here to sign up.

    To contribute: Read the instructions on the map, or follow them below.

    1. After you are logged in, go here to get to our map.

    2. Directly above the title is the Edit button. Click that.

    3. In the upper left-hand corner of the map, click on the blue pin.

    4. Drop the pin on the map where your favorite family-owned business is. Try to be as specific as you can.

    5. Use the business name as the title.

    6. Tell us a little bit about the business in the Description field. Is it minority-owned? How many generations work there? What’s the story of the business? To include photos or links, click on Rich Text.

    7. Hit OK to finalize your contribution. Tweet your contribution with the hashtag #assignmentdesk

    All in the familia: The story of family-owned businesses in Los Angeles

    Los Angeles is teeming with businesses — corporate, individual and family. Those small mom-and-pop businesses make up some of LA’s most famous names: Porto’s, Canter’s, Tapatio, Sriracha…

    But what is it really like to own a family-owned businesses right after a recession? How have younger generations changed business for their parents? Twitter, Facebook, blending work and play are all part of younger generations and they are bringing those interest to work — and potentially their family’s work. 

    Our first assignment will be to tell the real story of family business in Los Angeles — from the inside and out.

    After our final story is published, we’ll invite contributors to attend our “All in the Familia" event Dec. 6, where we’ll recognize your work.

    Assignments so far

    Assignment: Help us map family-owned businesses in Los Angeles (Link)

    Assignment: Talk to your family about your business (Link)

    Assignment: Interview your favorite family-owned business (Link)

    Just a few rules

    We don’t have many rules here, but there are a few guidelines…

    "What are you doing?"

    Tell interested people you’re helping KPCC with a reporting project called Assignment Desk. Send them to this site for more information.

    Make sure you claim an assignment

    If you’re up for it, make sure you comment on the assignment and let us know you’ll be taking it on. 

    Give us your contact info

    When you submit your assignment, leave us some way to get in touch with you. Just in case. We won’t share it with anyone.

    Tell the world!

    Tweet with #assignmentdesk and tell your friends what they’re doing.

    A few interviewing tips

    • Be as natural as possible. The best interviews are just conversations written down.
    • Make sure you quote someone only if you have written down their exact words.
    • Ask your subject to elaborate if you need more detail. Ask them for specifics on what you’d like to follow up on.
    • Make sure you have them spell their full name, age and title.
    • Use eye contact. It’s hard to talk to someone who is buried in a notebook.
    • Want to send us multi-media instead? We’ll take videos, photos, audio and whatever else you’ve got!

    A few tips on photos and videos

    Video 101

    • Take a moving picture. Hold your camera steady. Maybe put it on a ledge. Let people and things move in front of the camera.

    • Get a new perspective. Before you press record, get up close or far away. Get up high or way down low.

    • Keep it short. We want moving pictures that we can mix together. Try to keep your videos between two seconds and 30 seconds. 

    • Camera rules. No rules. We take all videos. iPhone. Android. dSLR. Handicam. Timelapses. Slow motion. 16mm. IMAX. Send it our way! 

    • Be famous! Include your Twitter handle in the description or let us know you uploaded something. We’ll tell everyone how awesome you are.

    Photo 101

    • Hold ‘er steady. Hold your camera steady. Maybe put it on a ledge. Maybe use your arms as a tripod

    • The rule of thirds. When you frame a picture, divide the picture into thirds, try putting someone if the left third. Or the top third.

    • No posing! The best photos are of life as it happens. Try to get people comfortable, and take the picture when they’re relaxed.

    • Instagram approved. We’ll take photos from Hipstamatic. Or Instagram. Or your fancy DSLR.