The family way

Many roofing companies are family-owned businesses that consist of family members working side by side. Often, children drop everything to help when their family business is in trouble or take over a business when a parent retires.

But the common presence of family-owned businesses is not unique to the roofing industry. Although the definition of family-owned business varies, the Family Firm Institute (FFI), Boston, released statistics in October 2003 showing family-owned businesses constitute 60 percent of all employment in the United States, 78 percent of new job creation and more than half the gross domestic product.

However, family-owned businesses' survival rates are not encouraging. According to FFI, a mere 30 percent of family-owned businesses survive into the second generation; 12 percent survive into the third generation; and only 3 percent survive into the fourth generation.

For your family-owned business to succeed, it is important you learn how to handle the unique business issues before it's too late.

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