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Parental Advisory

Yes, you're older and wiser now, but you can still benefit from your parents' expertise.

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This story appears in the October 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You're starting a business in college, and you want to enlist the help of your parents. Be it financial help or assistance with back-office duties like shipping or accounting, you want to make sure this role reversal of sorts goes as smoothly as possible. Your first weapon is communication, says Sonja Montiel, founder of College Confidence, a college counseling firm in Westlake Village, California. Montiel, who has volunteered with the Boys & Girls Club's entrepreneurship program as well as mediated her fair share of college-related family disputes, says, "You need to create a business plan. It doesn't have to be so formal at the start, but it should at least outline your expectations. Who are your players? And if your parents are included, where do they fit in the grand scheme of this business? What is each person's role going to be? Put it in writing, see it, then communicate it."

Putting something in writing may seem a bit formal when you're working with mom and dad, but it helps prevent conflicts and confirms to your parents how serious you are about your business. Also, notes Montiel, "just having an outsider to mediate can bring emotions to an objective point-whether it's a business advisor or a lawyer [saying], 'Let's look at the [goals] on each side.'"

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