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The Parent Trap

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

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This story appears in the March 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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]."

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