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The Best Family Business Meetings When the family works and plays together, there's a good chance the family business will stay together.

By Patricia Schiff Estess

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ever wonder why some family businesses get the whole family together for a retreat away from the office? What do they do? What do they talk about?

"These are not business meetings, though business issues are discussed," explains Andrew Keyt, executive director of Loyola University's Family Business Center in Chicago. The purpose of these gatherings is to consider and act on issues that occur when a family is in business together.

The most effective meetings are the ones that are inclusive and not limited to family members who are owners. "Relatives who don't have stock in the company still have a stake," explains Tom Kaplan, family business consultant and assistant professor of entrepreneurial studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey. If they're expected to be supportive of their shareholding relatives (in some cases, spouses), these nonshareholders have to be part of the discussions and the solutions. For example, they should know how their spouses can cash in stock to pay for their children's college educations. They have to understand why their spouses will be working late for the next few months--to generate community support for a family business project. And they have to be cognizant of what must happen before their children are allowed to enter the family business.

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