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How to Start Up with Mom and Dad on Your Side The ties you form early will help mold you in life and in business. Here's how to keep your parents happy and on your side while you're starting up.

By Jim Sheils

The early bonds you form with mom and dad serve as the foundation of how you'll interact within any other relationship. They're your very first role models, and they'll be the greatest influences on our future endeavors -- in business or otherwise. So why not start out on the right foot?

Here are four tips for keeping your parental bond strong and your business happy:

1. Take the good, leave the bad.
Young entrepreneurs should view their parents' financial situations like a buffet: take the good lessons, while leaving the bad behind. Sometimes, reverse role models are the best kind. A child from a wealthy family, who never sees his parents because of their work schedules, may grow up to focus more on family than work. What his childhood lacked ("family time") will be abundant in his children's lives. It's all about creating a balance between your professional and personal lives. For sons and daughters out there: Observe your parents, and use some critical-thinking skills. Replicate their strengths and avoid their weaknesses.

2. Parental support, defined.
Most successful entrepreneurs have a group of business friends and associates to rely on. Your parents should be part of this group, but you should avoid being overly dependent on them. Entrepreneurial support and financial support are not synonymous. If they can't help financially and you're banking on them, then your emotional relationship may suffer. In fact, the sooner you can stop turning to your parents for financial support, the more successful you can become. You'll develop a skill set and reach a level of maturity that most adults never reach (we know plenty of "grown-ups" who are still dependent on their parents). Self-reliance at a young age is impressive, respectable and, frankly, feels good.

3. Give more than you take.
Don't take your parents for granted. If you're expecting your parents to be an active part of your advisory group -- to support you in good times and bad -- then they have become more than just your parents. They are now your partners as well, and you need to treat them accordingly. Many entrepreneurs go out of their way to keep their customers and partners happy. There's no reason not to show your parents the same respect and prove to them that you possess the qualities necessary for entrepreneurial success.

4. Nurture your relationship.
Your relationship with your parents is going to affect you, one way or another. If it's tense, then you're going to have added stress when building your startup. Conversely, if you have a smooth, mutually respectful relationship, then you have an advantage over the competition. Work to keep each other happy -- and your relationship strong -- and your business environment will prosper. A good relationship with Mom and Dad may not yield successful business, but a bad relationship will most definitely lead to struggles.

Jim Sheils is the co-founder of Board Meetings International, a company that specializes in parent/child retreats for entrepreneurs and their children. Board Meetings International uses a combination of experiential education and fun activities like surfing and other oceanfront adventures to deepen their relationships and teach vital life lessons not taught in school.

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