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Keeping the Lines of Communication Open

When business and family mix, the key to success is communication.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a startup, you know you need all the extra help you can get in those first months-so you'll recruit spouses and children, uncles and cousins to get that first big order out on time or paper the neighborhood with coupons. Still, even if you're not technically starting a family business, negotiating the family and business connection is a challenge. How do you settle (eventual) compensation? How do you decide who does what? What will happen if someone decides to leave after two months? Above all, how can you keep your family relationships intact while you build your business?

Rebecca Cutler and Jennifer Krane, co-founders of Raising a Racquet LLC, a maternity-wear company in Darien, Connecticut, faced those issues when they started in July 2002. Getting the company off the ground took all their efforts, as well as those of their husbands, who delivered goods on their Manhattan commutes; their children, who helped box products; and their siblings, who helped promote the products via e-mail. Even their teenage baby-sitter pitched in by dropping off FedEx packages on her way home. Says Krane, 38, "Our families have been invaluable."

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