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Making a Family Balance Sheet

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You've received an offer for your company you can't refuse - but youand your family may want to refuse it. Why? Because you derive manysatisfactions from the business other than the money. The emotionalwell-being of family members can be more important than their financial assets.

Ellen Frankenberg, a psychologist and columnist for this magazine,emphasizes this point and takes it farther in her new book, YourFamily Inc.: Practical Tips for Building a Healthy Family Business(The Haworth Press, New York, 1999). Frankenberg has developed a "familybusiness balance sheet" used to weigh "family assets" against financial assets.

The balance sheet includes 13 statements that each family member isasked to rank in order of its importance to him or her. When the resultsare tallied, they provide an overview of what the family values most.According to Frankenberg, the family is then better prepared to weighoffers. Sample statements:

  • I believe our work ethic should be preserved. I am concernedabout the effect of great wealth on children who have never earned it.
  • Good health is my primary consideration. I am concerned about theimpact of continuing hard work on me and my family.
  • Our business is a source of pride to me. I want our company to growinto the dominant player in our market, and perhaps beyond.
  • I have contributed to the growth of this company to make money. Weshould choose the most profitable option, whatever that is.

Copyright 1999 Family Business Publishing Co.




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