Photo Joanna L. Krotz

by Joanna L. Krotz

(Shared from Office Live Small Business Community)

In years past, bringing the kids into a family business usually meant grooming the owner’s son to take over.

Times, of course, have changed.

Today, younger entrepreneurial women are launching businesses of their own. Likewise, many older women have been running companies for years.

Nearly half of all privately-held enterprises in the United States are at least 50 percent owned by women, according to a 2005 survey from the Center for Women’s Business Research. That adds up to roughly 11 million companies.

As a result, moms now frequently turn to their daughters for technological know-how and other skills. Daughters often ask moms to get involved because of their experience as lawyers, retailers, bankers, marketers, and more.

Can mothers and daughters really work well together?

But what worked in the past for Papa & Son doesn’t necessarily suit Mama & Daughter.

Besides any natural tension between parents and grown children about issues of power, trust, and risk-taking, there are specific challenges for mothers and daughters who work together.

“Twenty years ago, women were told that in order to get ahead in business they had to be more like men,” says Atlanta-based management consultant Elizabeth Gordon, author of “The Chic Entrepreneur.” Now, girls and young women realize that they can succeed by being themselves, she says. “These two points of view, on the way a woman should look, dress, act and behave in a business setting, could be the source of generation gap tension.”

Here’s another distinction: Business-owner dads tend to test their sons by tossing them into choppy waters and seeing how they swim. Not so with women. “Men tend to bond through rivalry and competition,” Gordon says. “But mothers and daughters bond over helping each other grow.”

So what happens when mothers and daughters decide to run a business? And how can you head off potential trouble?

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