The Parent Trap

Switching from parent to owner and back again takes some serious coordination.

Think of the qualities you need to be a good parent: patience, gentleness, tolerance for trial and error, and the ability to support, nurture, protect and teach. Now think of what it takes to be the head of a family business. None of those parental qualities would make it into most business owners' top 10 list.

So it's no surprise it's so difficult being parent and boss to offspring who work in the business. Parents concerned they can't get it right may be consoled by Ft. Worth, Texas, family business consultant Sam H. Lane's observation: "Practically no one who's been emotionally invested in the business for a long time does a good job at [balancing the two]."

Patricia Schiff Estess writes family business histories and is the author of two books, Managing Alternative Work Arrangements (Crisp Publishing) and Money Advice for Your Successful Remarriage (Betterway Press).

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This article was originally published in the March 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Parent Trap.

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