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Don't Play Family Feud With Your Business

Have a brother whose conception of savings is change for the laundry machine? Has your sister's bossy-teenager phase persisted into adulthood?

Take a long look at your family's idiosyncrasies. Now add to them the stresses of a nascent business. If the snapshot looks worse than Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws, you may want to reconsider a family business.

When working with family members, the highs and lows of a typical small business will be amplified, says Nick Romeo, who works with his father at their Tennessee-based company Romeo Advertising .

82 million people -- 62% of the workforce -- are employed by family enterprises according to the latest research from the Family Business Review in 2003. Even big names like Koss Corp. (KOSS - Get Report) and Yuengling are family-run. But before you and your next of kin jump on the bandwagon, rigorously investigate family member's strengths and weaknesses and imagine them amplified. "Is this something you can deal with?" asks Romeo.

More Than Milk Money

Thought arguing over who gets a bigger allowance was bad? Try it now that you're all grown up and in business.

Expect disagreements about payment to come up. "I run the company and my sister's husband does most of the labor," says Lisa Elliott of TG Elliott Associates , a New York subcontracting construction firm. "There are times that my sister would charge me for eight hours of her husband's overtime pay when he should have been paid [less]."
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