"Someday this company will be yours." This may sound like an innocent statement from a well-meaning parent, but it can wreak havoc within a family business. "When children grow up believing that no matter how they act, the business will be theirs to run, the stage is set for an entitlement attitude to flourish," says Tom Kaplan, a family business consultant and assistant professor of entrepreneurial studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. And once that seed is planted, it's almost impossible to stunt its growth.
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).