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Leaving Business Back at the Office

If the family business is seeping its way into every off-hours conversation, it's time to draw the line on shop talk.

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This story appears in the September 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Does this scenario sound familiar? "When Allan starts discussing business at the dinner table, I ask him if it's something that can wait until later," says Renee Berkon. "If he says no or appears upset, we talk about it. If he says yes, we move on."

In these subtle conversations, the Berkons, owners of the Fireproofing Corp. of America, an industrial cleaning service in New York City, are dealing with the subtleties involved in trying to set boundaries in a family business. For many, this seemingly simple task can quickly become a frustrating paradox. On one hand, a successful family business is so pervasive, it's impossible to expect it won't spill over into your family life. On the other, if you let it overwhelm your personal life, you run the risk of ruining your business and your family relationships.

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