Rules To Live By

Keep the peace! Written policies help family businesses stay on the right track!

Most family businesses don't need written family policy guidelines during their first few years of operation. If available and willing, spouses, children, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles pitch in during the overwhelming initial stages. The founder or founders make decisions on the fly. And while the decisions may create a stir from time to time, it's not until a nephew says "What do you mean I can't come work here when I graduate from college?" or a child says "I thought when I was ready to take over the business, you'd leave" or a bank says "We'd like to see a succession plan before we lend you any more money" that most family businesses think about establishing written family policy guidelines.

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This article was originally published in the February 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Rules To Live By.

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