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Having an Open-Book Policy Enough with the secrets--give your key employees the financial information they need to help you run a successful business.

By Patricia Schiff Estess

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ready to open the books--to everyone? The concept that key employees should be able to see and understand a company's financials, that they should have a part in moving the numbers in the right direction, and that they should have a direct stake in the company's success makes many family business owners cringe--even though it can pay off down the road.

"In the early stages of [growth], family business owners don't have much money and don't want anyone to know," says Ernesto Poza, a family business advisor in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. In the later stages, their reasons change. "Then they don't want the IRS knowing they've struck it rich, and they find legal ways to make it seem like they're just breaking even. They're also afraid that Uncle Joe or the employees will get wind of the success, and everyone will be tapping them for money."

But secrecy can be counter-productive, especially when employees assume the family is reaping wealth from the firm and they're getting unexciting salaries. They may be unaware that most of the profits are being put back into the business instead of into the family's pockets. That's why Poza supports opening the company's financial information to key nonfamily employees. "The more they understand about the business and the consequences of their actions, the more likely they are to make decisions that parallel the owners' interests."

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